Last month, we welcomed our son into the world and my life shifted profoundly. Parenting has been a (sleep-deprived) blast, but it has forced me to consider the world I’m creating for my son. After taking him to visit his first storage facility, I started to think about what legacy means in this business. As a second-generation self storage owner/operator, I’ve been privileged to inherit a philosophy about the industry that has governed our company for the last 35 years and enabled its success. Now, as a father myself, it’s my job to ensure that the philosophy, like the business, can continue to benefit the next generation.
I believe a philosophy of constant improvements, both physical and technological, will ultimately shape our legacy and enable the appreciation of these stores for the third generation. Right now, when everyone is 97% full, it may not matter if a door doesn’t roll well or the asphalt is ‘alligatoring.’ However, when the market inevitably returns to normal, having a best-in-class facility will set you apart and ultimately lead to more rentals, more referrals and longer stays. There’s a saying in my family – how you do anything is how you do everything. Tenants intuitively know that if you just replaced their door, sealcoated the asphalt, put in new LED lights or a new gate, you care about the facility and, in turn, care about them and their belongings.
On the investment side, I’ve lost out on many deals over the last several years due to a ‘too high’ capital expenditure budget that my competitors didn’t have. I sometimes wonder what happens to that deal in five years when the property is no longer competitive and that investor gets an unforeseen capital call. I know that I don’t want to have those conversations with my investors and that it’s in everyone’s interest to do things ‘right’ from the start.
When my son eventually retires from professional baseball and decides to join me in the business, I’ll have a portfolio that will make him proud. Whether it’s a first-generation or 5th generation facility, I know that in 30 years, it’ll be best-in-class.