December 1, 2000

5 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine 12/2000: Boat and RV Storage

Boat and RV Storage

An interview with Tim Soder, president of VersaTube BuildingSystems

Thestaff of Inside Self-Storage recently had the opportunity to speak with TimSoder, president of VersaTube Building Systems, to discuss the potential of boatand RV storage for self-storage operators. The company, based in Collierville,Tenn., produces covered shelters for RV, boat and automobile storage.

Please give us some background information on VersaTube Building Systemsand its connection to boat and RV storage.

VersaTube Building Systems has been in business seven years. We started as atubing fabricator, and then developing technology allowed us to create our"swaging technology." From there, we moved into building systems. Ourfirst structure was a carport, and then we began developing secondarystructures, including those for boat and RV storage.

What are the primary concerns of boat and RV owners? What would drive themto pay for storage of those vehicles?

I think one of the primary concerns of boat and RV owners is where to storetheir vehicle. If they cannot store it at home--either because of limited spaceor local ordinances--then they need to find a suitable place. If the boat or RVsits in the sun, its surfaces will expand and contract and the finish willdeteriorate. Add that to other damage from inclement weather, and it's easy tosee that boat and RV owners would want to protect their investment, especiallywhen that investment can cost as much as $250,000.

From your perspective, how popular is boat and RV storage withinindustries such as self-storage or marinas? Is it becoming more prominent? Ifso, why?

First and foremost, the biggest area of concentration in the self-storageindustry is storage for personal belongings. But, with boat and RV purchases onthe rise, people need the storage. They can't store the boat or RV at homebecause of city ordinances. Self-storage facilities now have designated areasfor boats and RVs. The self-storage locations that do offer boat and RV storageneed to indicate that in their advertising. People in the mini-storage industrycan take advantage of extra space by offering this kind of storage--bothuncovered and covered.

What are the various structures available for vehicle storage and what arethe benefits to each?

There are flat-top canopies and normal canopies for covered parking made ofred-iron and galvanized steel, which require heavy construction skills to erect.These canopies are designed to cover many spaces at once. Boats and RVs can befully enclosed in stand-alone units or in large buildings that hold severalvehicles. We offer a sled-based unit that can be portable. An in-line,galvanized, steel-tubed frame offers the best rust protection and is easy toship and erect. The roof of a VersaTube structure is galvanized steel and can bepainted to match the rest of the storage facility. An owner can erect aVersaTube structure himself with some labor assistants. The structure can beopen-air or completely enclosed.

What size ranges need to be offered in terms of the vehicle space?

Our base unit starts at 20 feet deep and increases in five-foot increments.Units need to be at least 12 feet wide, but the height is dependent on theproduct mix in the marketplace. Travel-trailer storage units should be 10 to12.5 feet high. Boat storage units need to be 7.5 feet high and 45 feet long.

What other special requirements might a facility or marina operator needto meet in order to offer this type of storage?

A storage facility or marina operator's first requirement is land and/or boatdock space. Market demand will also affect requirements. An operator might startwith uncovered space and move to covered space, and then move to boat/RV storageexclusively. An operator could offer uncovered, covered and semi-covered space.People want to store all their vehicles in one place. Operators can also offeramenities such as vehicle washing, vehicle repair, preparing vehicles forstorage (i.e. cleaning septic system and washing vehicle), or preparing the boator RV for travel.

What about items such as fire sprinklers? Are they a requirement withthese structures the way they are with standard buildings?

If the storage facility owner is using steel structures for storage, thestorage facility is not going to burn, but the boat or RV might. The ownershould check with local building officials to see what is required and checklocal building codes.

What important things should a facility owner be looking for in a builderof covered or enclosed structures?

He should look for companies offering quality products that can be deliveredin a timely fashion.

Should cost ever be an issue?

Cost is always an issue. Owners need to go through the process of costjustification. Will they get a return on their investment? Is it financiallyfeasible? The quicker the structure depreciates, the bigger the return. Facilityoperators also need to consider the construction cost of erecting storagestructures, many of which require a construction crew for assembly. A systemlike ours is easy to erect. An owner could erect it himself with a few extrahands. Plus, it can be used to cover as few or as many spaces as the owner seesfit. Additional structures are easy to assemble. As a result, boat and RVstorage is becoming its own opportunity.

Are facility operators paying attention to differences in quality of thevarious types of structures?

I think they are. Basically, the operators are pleased with the structuresthey are getting. Cost justification is a vital part of quality. VersaTube'sproduct is a good value because of its ease of construction and seven-yeardepreciation rate.

For more information, visit, or call (901) 854-6855.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter
ISS is the most comprehensive source for self-storage news, feature stories, videos and more.

You May Also Like