The Florida Self Storage Association

September 1, 2004

6 Min Read
The Florida Self Storage Association

The Florida Self Storage Association

The best start under the sun

By Kimberly Hundley


hough some might like to believeit, creating a strong state self-storage association is not as simple as mixingup a delicious pitcher of Florida orange juice. Self-storage advocates who havebeen there and done that know it is more like cultivating an entire orangegrove.

Since its energetic inception in 1998, the Florida SelfStorage Association (FSSA) has grown from a regional networking group to avibrant statewide organization. Thanks to some inventive, members-onlyofferings, it has increased membership 25 percent in the last year to a total of400. Determination and creativity on the part of board trustees hassteered the association through a period of dormancy to a new era. In November,the FSSA will host its first regional conference and tradeshow, in conjunctionwith

Inside Self-Storage (ISS).

An Auspicious Beginning

David Blum, past president and current board trustee, recallsthe ups and downs of the associations first years. We started as the SouthFlorida Self-Storage Association, which was basically designed to be a group fornetworking among owners and operators in the tri-county area of south Florida,Blum says. We received a tremendous amount of support and interestinitially. In August 2000, we had our first mixer. It was like a tradeshow, andwe invited everybody managers, employees and operators. We had about 20 vendors with table-top displays, and it was arousing success, with almost 300 attendees.

Around the same time, Michael Kidd, executive director of thenational Self Storage Association, approached the groups board members andencouraged them to build on their momentum and launch a statewide organization.The board gladly took up the challenge. Before long, however, an ongoing battlesurfaced: how to remain relevant to members.

I think all the state associations are running into thisissue, Blum says. There is a lot of enthusiasm in the early days; but intime, everybody starts to look for what the association provides its membership.Without a continuing source of income from either fundraisers or dues, itsdifficult to provide services to the members. After about two years, you runinto a struggle to justify their continued support.

Goals and Challenges

A recognized role of state associations is to provide a unitedfront in lobbying for the industry. All the major national self-storagecompanies account for less than 10 percent of total facilities, Blum says.Thats why its important for individual operators to have a group thatrepresents their interests throughout the state. When issues do arise, mostlegislators want a single voice representing the industry. And they want alocal, not national, organization representing them.

In Florida, however, no rallying point such as late-feelegislation has emerged to drive statewide membership. The FSSA positions itselfas a proactive organization working to educate lawmakers on industry needs, yetsuch results arent concrete. Members and potential subscribers want to seecold, hard, tangible benefits for their $250 in annual dues.

What to do? The FSSA board committed to producing morediscounts and other members- only amenities. A self-storage lease, developed inAugust 2003, perhaps ranks as the most valuable. Approved for use in the stateof Florida, the lease is available for purchase on CD. Not many stateassociations have a specific state-sponsored lease, well-written by a highlyregarded self-storage attorney, says Linnea Appleby, board president. Thats a hugebenefit, available only to members.

The association recently revamped its website,, and is creating an area exclusively for members where jobsmay be posted. Well also have a bulletin board for exchanging questionsand answers on issues that come up in the state, Blum says. With the helpof the national association, we have an advocacy network people can call whenissues arise, and we limit that to members. Quarterly networking luncheons atwhich discounts are offered are offered for members as well.

Blum is pleased with the boards progress thus far. Weveworked very diligently over the last year and a half to create benefits topromote and drive membership, he says. But the FSSA still has ample room to grow. The state of Florida has 2,300 self-storage facilities,according to Blum. The potential to expand is enormous, and growth is a key goalfor the board.

We want to be able to reach out, Blum says. Right nowwe are very strong in the south and west. We want to expand into the central,northeast and southeast parts of the state. One of our strongest goals is tofind people to help us support that growth. To encourage expansion, Blum and other key board memberscontinually seek like-minded candidates who sincerely care about the industryswell-being.

What were looking for are people who have a genuineinterest in the concept of an association supporting the industry in the state,says Blum. And were starting to get more people who have an interest inthe betterment of the industry and the importance of having a single voice thatoffers real benefits for the members.

Board of trustee members serve three-year terms. Blum andAppleby are excited by the boards direction and recent retooling. Specificcommittees are being formed to tackle topics such as education and specialevents, with each committee headed by a board member.

Expo Tops the List

In reviewing the FSSAs accomplishments for 2004, Blumpoints to the joint-venture expo in Miami, Nov. 17-19, as a milestone. By teaming with ISS in a regional event, the FSSA will helpalleviate the drain on vendors who cant afford to attend the burgeoningnumber of tradeshows. I think in the future youll see more and more ofthis type of thing start to come on, says Blum.

The conference kicks off with a one-day developers seminarsponsored solely by the FSSA on Nov. 16. Weve done it each year, and eachyear it gets progressively more popular, Blum says. The seminar is ideal foranyone interested in storage development. A separate fee is required.

In addition, the FSSA planned one of the expos educationaltracks, devoted entirely to state-specific issues. The track features experts onbuilding codes, insurance, human resources and Internet marketing. Next year,Blum predicts, the content will be regionalized to attract attendees fromGeorgia and other nearby states. Also featured this year is a track gearedtoward industry newcomers and another for seasoned professionals in thebusiness.

The ISS expo is designed to assist those involved inself-storage as well as those investigating opportunities to excel in theindustry, says Michael Reed, ISS tradeshow manager. Our joint effortwith the FSSA is a continuation of our efforts to promote the self-storageindustry. We continually increase awareness and provide networking opportunitiesfor developers, owners, operators and suppliers from many parts of the globe.

Reed, Blum and Appleby say the choice of Miami as host citywill definitely add to the shows appeal. This is the first time an eventhas been held in Miami, and its going to be extremely exciting, Blum says.Its also the first time a state association has joined up with aprofessional like ISS to put together a joint venture. Its going to beinformative, fun and one of the best shows around.

For more information,

Board of Trustees

Linnea Appleby, President

Storage Spot
Bradenton, Fla.

Jeanne Braker, Executive Director
Florida Self Storage Association
Boca Raton, Fla.

David Blum

Blum Management Services
Coral Springs, Fla.

Brian Blankenship
Lake Bluff, Ill.

Chip Cordes
U.S.Door & Building Components
Orlando, Fla.

Kerry K. Harvey
FloridaSecure Self Storage
Penbrook Pines, Fla.

L. BruceMcCardle
Mako Steel Inc.
Jacksonville, Fla.

Lew Pollack
Stars& Stripes
Boca Raton, Fla.

Norman Schulman

Sentry Self Storage
Coral Springs, Fla.

Capital Management & Realty
Boynton Beach,Fla.

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