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How I Got Into Storage

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  • How I Got Into Storage

    An area manager turned consultant shares her journey to the self-storage industry. What's your story?
    Amy Campbell
    Inside Self-Storage
    [email protected]


  • #2
    We needed to go to work and the idea of having a place to live included was attractive. A job opened up when we needed it and here we are 7 years later.
    We wish we had done this sooner.


    • #3
      What a long strange trip this has been.

      I ran automotive repair shops for close to 35 years. 2008 economy caused me to be laid off. I was out of work for almost 2 years. My wife died during this time. I was lost and had lost most hope. Saw an ad on CL for a self storage manager and applied. Between myself and 2 other people. With my many years of management experience I won out. The manager that was there was retiring and moving to Las Vegas and she liked me. That helped.

      Was there almost exactly 2 years and who I work for now did a mystery call, a mystery walk in inquiry and then came back 2 days later and offered me a position. The former management team was retiring. Been here 6 years this month.

      Both places have the live on site set up but this facility home is much bigger and nicer and the neighborhood is very affluent. Even for double the money I would never run shops again.
      "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


      • #4
        Where do I start? In 2006, my husband was offered a job in Tucson AZ at the company he worked for, ( A Big Box Store that I will never EVER set foot in again) they needed a store manager. It was a significant bump in pay and we needed it. So, we moved from WA to Tucson, spent about $4000 on the U-haul and other moving expenses. Secured a house and was told upon arrival "Oh... No one called you?.. Sorry the job has been filled. We don't have anything for you....." They would not reimburse us for the move, and there was no way we could afford to move back home. We had nothing in writing to take them to court with, so.....We were stuck. We had just spent all our savings and had enough money for 2 months of rent and supplies. My husband had 2 part time jobs because it was all he could find, and I worked 1 part time job at the mall- also all I could find. That was at the beginning of the recession. We made $7.25 an hour and rent on the house was $900 a month. That was cheap rent BTW. For 2 years we struggled and barely scraped by. I had a 10x10 storage unit full of stuff we had brought with us that would not fit in the apartment we downsized to.My hours were cut due to lack of sales.When I was unable to pay my storage any longer I went into the office and cried at the counter, explaining our dilemma to the sweet little lady who worked there, Jill. She offered me a job to help save my things from going to auction. 2 days a week as a relief manager. She let me make partial payments to catch up, and eventually after 1 and a 1/2 years I took over her job when she retired. We got the free apartment, and between myself and my husband we have managed storage properties for several years. I was promoted to area manager for Tucson and Phoenix for that company. I briefly went on to manage apartments, but quickly found I have very little tolerance for all that drama. My husband kept having to go into the ER due to heat stroke, and we decided after after 7 years there, we needed a cooler climate and moved back to WA, where we both still work in storage, just for different companies. (Also in different towns so its not a conflict of interest) His job provides a free apt and utilities and a salary, mine provides a higher wage and healthcare. I wouldnt change careers again, I really enjoy doing what I do! I will never forget the kindness and friendship Jill offered to me, and the exceptional way she handled situations. She taught me so much and I will always be grateful to her.
        Last edited by wc1974; 6th September 2019, 01:32 PM.
        You Laugh, I laugh. You cry, I cry. You take my coffee...may God have mercy on your soul....


        • #5
          At 25, the family business I was a part of sold to a national company after 60+ years. I went to work for the national company and instantly hated every second of it. They offered me a severance so I jumped on it. I then did months of research into different types of businesses that my wife and I could run. Storage came across my search and I was instantly interested. We knew it was a long shot because my savings was depleted after months of being out of work. I was fortunate enough to come across the listing for our facility and got in touch with an agent. He told me (since he owned his own facility) we have a very slim chance based on our financials (facility was over a million at the time). We were told no, after no after no by every bank in town, then got one that gave us a chance. The deal almost fell apart many times due to a very stubborn owner, but in the end it worked out and here we are 7 years (and 1 expansion) later loving every second of it, and still running the facility ourselves. We have basically bought ourselves job security for the next 30 years and have a great business to pass on to our kids if needed, all while making great money.


          • #6
            Knew people who owned a small lot in Houston from when I was a bingo caller and always thought it sounded interesting. Wife and I knew it was something that sounding intriguing so I started off by answering a craigslist ad for an asst manager. For our first year of marriage my wife was an in home care giver for her grandparents who lived with us while I learned the business. Ran the place pretty much myself as the manager was a joke, got tired of his illegal/unethical antics so I started searching elsewhere. Found a couples listing, went and did our interviews and were offered a job, gave my 2 weeks notice and was contacted by the home office of that company about wanting me to stay as they were just now starting to realize the stuff I was reporting was true. They asked what it would take to keep me, told them the live on, my wife joins me and I *may* of told them I was being offered $5k more a year at the other place who offered us a job. They said yes to all without any rebuttal *maybe I should of said 10k more? lol*.

            Six months later it was bought by AC Self Storage and managed by Us Storage Centers, retained on with them, got REAL training in the business and how things should be done by an awesome DM Lou Chippendale, won multiple awards in the company for revenue and rentals then got moved from Houston to Florida to become a district trainer and pretty much his right hand for 22 sites in all aspects. Started doing all the audits, hiring, training, due diligence mystery shops of sites to buy and re-creating that companies training processes as well as pretty much every guide they have/use. Eight months in Nashville and got poached to another company who we wasted 18 months with before realizing what a waste it was, now found a small family owned company in California we're currently with helping them get organized and setup to run like the big boys do. Keep getting offers to go back to the first one but kind of like the idea of the smaller companies and actually knowing the owners/being a key part of their business versus just another cog in the machine.


            • #7
              In April of 2014, I was released from a position because of an error that could not be rectified (have discovered recently that it was not my error but that many people are being released for similar errors). I was in need of a job and went back to the c-store industry full time until I could find something else. While at church one Sunday (about two weeks later), a young woman who I have known for several years was visiting with her family and began to talk to my wife after the service. She used to work as an assistant manager for one of our long-time friends who was a property manager for the self-storage location across the street. They had recently been purchased during an acquisition and she was in need of an ASM. She offered it to this woman my wife was speaking to but she said she didn't want to get back into storage. I went and applied and because there wasn't the need for full-time, I worked 15hrs a week there and then 45 at the c-store. After six months, the manager at the self-storage facility was moving due to her husband's recent job loss. They then interviewed me to take over and I've been here full-time since. I now assist my regional manager with administration items in running several properties.


              • #8
                I always like to go back to our roots reading this. 20 years 11-16-99 was lease #1
                Joe Krezdorn
                DAK Self Storage
                Leesport, PA 19533


                • #9
                  I would love to buy one!!


                  • #10
                    I got into storage completely out of the blue and without prior experience. I was a residential & storage tenant here and working for the Behavioral Health residential program in my town. They had made so many changes to our paperwork and billing process, we were spending more time on said paperwork than with the people we were there to serve. It was increasingly stressful, I was literally losing my hair. The prior office manager had retired, so after much contemplation and hope that I was making the right decision, I decided to inquire about the job. 2 years later, I'm still here. Most days I enjoy the work, but there are tough days and rude, entitled people. But, that happens everywhere. I am happy to be here and the owners are more like family to me than employers.


                    • #11
                      Fell into it after my divorce. I was an assistant teacher for 4th-7th (I was also a substitute teacher for all of the classes, from 6 weeks to 7th grade and I ran the summer program for upper elementary).
                      I moved from South Carolina to California to be closer to family, (people asked me if I was going to work with kids again......nope, babies, maybe) and was hired for part-time at my first facility-after a year my manager left and I was promoted to manager. I owe Julie (my first manager) a bunch as she taught me everything she knew about storage management. Now I'm on facility #3.
                      When I had all of my ducks in a row-I realized that most of them were not even mine!

                      WA State


                      • #12
                        I was looking for work for 8 months in a small town that we live in in Central Florida. I was willing to drive an hour or more to get a decent job. My husband was working a part time job for a hardware store. As I went in to take him his lunch, I complimented a woman on a pair of earrings she was wearing and we struck up a short conversation. I asked her "what do you do for real life?" She answered, "Oh I manage a self storage facility over on Center Street". I then said are you by chance hiring? She said as a matter of fact we are. Come over tomorrow after 1:00 p.m., fill out an application and I'll see about getting you a job. IT WORKED!

                        I've been in the business for 13 years (15 really but had a 2 year hiatus not by choice). I LOVE this business.
                        Tall Terri

                        The customer's fantasy doesn't always match with reality!


                        • #13
                          My boyfriend/partner and I were looking to buy an apartment building but couldn’t find anything that fit. We both have physically demanding W2 jobs and wanted to have an alternate source of income. Saw a listing for a storage facility for sale, decided to buy it (I look back now and realize that was pretty ballsy/risky, as I really knew nothing about storage units)....and now we own 3 facilities!


                          • #14
                            Currently I work for a company but I could see a future with my own facility someday. There's lots to learn and having someone else with knowledge show you the right and wrong ways is a big help. I came from an IT Help desk job which was not in anyway my ideal career, I am still trying to piece together what I want to be when I grow up but I feel like there is a lot of potential in this industry for sure.


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