StoreLocal Corp., a co-operative of private self-storage operators in Canada and the United States, has added three new founding members over the last month, bringing a total of 53 additional facilities into the co-op. The company this week signed Idaho-based Keylock Storage, which operates seven facilities in three states. This change comes on the heels of agreements with Lindsey Self Storage Group and Storage Rentals of America. The recent additions bring StoreLocal’s total membership to more than 700 facilities, according to a company press release.
Based in Boise, Idaho, Keylock opened its first facility in 2003 and has locations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Its properties are owned by Keylock Storage Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bitterroot Holdings LLC. Keylock is StoreLocal’s first member in the Pacific Northwest, according to the release.
Keylock CEO Ron Osborne said he was motivated to join the co-op to leverage its collective power, likening it to his company’s previous experience with a national employee-benefits association. “It was very, very helpful, and we were able to interact with firms like us around the country,” he said, adding that he believes the co-op puts smaller operators on a more even playing field with self-storage real estate investment trusts (REITs).
“StoreLocal’s mission since the beginning has been to provide independent, privately owned store operators the same benefits and scale as the larger, publicly owned conglomerates,” Lance Watkins, CEO of StoreLocal, said in a previous statement.
In addition to expanding StoreLocal’s presence in the Northwest, Watkins believes Keylock will help the co-op expand its offerings to members. "They'll be a great founder in being able to mentor us with an employee-benefit program that will help us all offer benefits to our employees across the co-op," he said.
Keylock joined about a week after the co-op signed Lindsey Self Storage Group, which operates eight facilities in North and South Carolina. Based in Durham, N.C., the storage operator was co-founded by brothers John and Alan Lindsey in 2012.
“The Lindseys were a great find because they’re the voice of the future of self-storage,” Watkins said. “They’re young, energetic, entrepreneurial and on the East Coast, so we’re really excited to have them join our group.”
John Lindsey, president, cited the number of quality operators that make up StoreLocal’s membership as a motivating factor for joining. “The group of leaders that are associated with StoreLocal, you look at them and they’re some really big names in the industry, people who’ve really made a difference not only at the national association level, but as far as introducing new practices and standards to the industry at large. And when you get a group of powerful people like that together, they’re only bound to do good things,” he said.
Similar to Osborne, Lindsey also acknowledged the challenges smaller self-storage operators face when competing with the REITs. “It’s tough for us to combat them as far as prices and cost of marketing and advertising is concerned,” he said. “The co-op provides an outlet for small- to medium-size operators like myself to step into the same arena and really continue to hold our own as we grow throughout the years.”
The Lindsey brothers, who are in their early and mid-20s, said they believe the co-op will help them achieve success. “I plan on being in the business for the rest of my life,” Lindsey said. “Hopefully that’s 60, 70 years, but I see this as a really, really good jumping point. This is a group that’s going to continue to grow and blossom through the years, and even if we take on different platforms or shift directions a little bit, we’ve got the right people on the bus and that can combat any change we see come our way.”
StoreLocal also recently signed Storage Rentals of America, which operates 38 self-storage facilities in four states, as a founding member. Watkins believes Storage Rentals will be a strategic partner because of CEO Benjamin Macfarland’s knowledge of commercial real estate and experience in scaling a storage operation.
"We’re excited to bring Ben Macfarland on board, because he’s not new to real estate,” Watkins said. “He’s backed by an ultra-high-net-worth family office and has a very heavy appetite to acquire a lot of real estate in the Southeast United States. He’s a good fit for the co-op and StorageFront because we’re able to leverage some of the experience we have in the industry with an operation that is growing very rapidly.”
Every prospective StoreLocal founder is subject to an approval process by the board of directors, and the co-op’s bylaws limit founder membership to 30 companies. There are now 21 members. The co-op leverages the combined strength of its membership for services such as customer acquisition, financing, marketing and technology.