When is a Storage Unit More Than a Storage Unit?


Michael Anderson
July 19th, 2021

When is a Storage Unit More Than a Storage Unit?

The excerpts below are from an Interview, March 23, 2021 with: Mike Howard, Managing Member, AKA Partners Adam Ibarra, CFO, AKA Partners; also co-owner of Michele Beck Accounting and Rickey Chavez with Gary Greene Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

How GreenFill Storage Centers Create Value For Customers, Investors, and Communities We Serve In

At some point every consumer asks, “What has my storage unit done for me lately outside of storing my stuff?”
Mike Howard, the CEO of AKA Partners, the parent company of GreenFill Storage has some insight.

Increasing Value to our Customers

Mr. Howard: Asking the question “When is a storage unit more than a storage unit” is not a philosophical conundrum to wonder. It’s more of a pragmatic query. A majority of people think of a storage unit as only consisting of four walls, a garage door, a floor and a roof. This logic seems straightforward enough; however, it’s not that simple.
Take the roof for example, we see the roof as much more than the covering that protects the important contents from the outside elements. The roof can be much more than this, in fact we see it as one of our greatest assets.
Let me explain. When solar panels are added to the top of that roof, the generated power produced from the sunlight is available at a fraction of the cost, as opposed to purchasing it from a local utility company.
We pass these savings down to those who store their possessions with us at budget-friendly rates. Our solar panels generate most, if not all, of the electrical needs of our storage facilities. This solar energy can be a tremendous benefit considering the high demand for climatized storage space. We make this temperature-controlled environment affordable, which can be a considerable cost savings when you consider the amount of electricity that type of space consumes on a daily basis.
This is a huge selling point for customers who are storing items that cannot be replaced, such as photos, keepsakes and memorabilia that are sensitive to extreme heat or cold!
The financial benefits can also make a big difference to a startup company, small business, and young families with limited cashflow.
It also means that our storage units can add additional features like extra video monitoring cameras, security lighting, electrical outlets for your RV's and boat's, to name a few; at a very low cost of operation and in an environmentally responsible way.
We also provide benefits we refer to as ‘outside the (storage) box’ thinking such as free ice. Our recreational vehicle and boat storage customers love to fill up their ice chests when picking up their travel trailer, fifth wheel, Winnebago motor home or luxury boat from our facility for their next big outing.
And one more thing, our ice machines are powered by our solar collection panels!

I think there is something poetic about ice being made by the sun.

Other ‘outside the box’ benefits have materialized by listening to the community. We noticed that people were constantly advertising on Next Door and other community social platforms that they had excess moving boxes and wanted to give them to anyone who could use them. This is, I assume, in preference to trying to fit them into their recycling bin.
We decided if the boxes were in reasonably good shape, we will store them for the next person who can use them. We included a community box recycling center where our community and customers can drop off or pick up recycled boxes.
If you use these boxes to store at our facility we’ll even help you label them to identify their contents.
I kind of get a kick out of a storage unit full of well labeled, smiley faced, recycled Amazon boxes getting a second life.
Although we sell boxes at our facilities, we feel it is far more important to save the natural resources and recycling costs by extending their useful life.
Another example is free storage for our on-site “We sell on eBay” business center. This is a service for those who would like to sell storage items they no longer want to keep but don’t want the hassle of posting it online. We’ll do it for you, free of charge.”

Increasing Value to our Community

Mr. Howard: “A storage facility is as much apart of the community as a public park, local community center or neighborhood shopping center. I love the fact that our GreenFill Storage facilities regularly offer to host fundraising events for the benefit of local schools, community Homeowners Associations (HOA’s), and other civic organizations.
For example, to show our appreciation for the warm welcome and high reviews we’ve received from our local neighborhood, we have offered our new RV wash facilities to local high schools and other organizations for carwash fundraisers.
When the event organizers show up and start waving at passerbys, everyone laughing and playing in the water, all in good fun to raise money for any good cause they see fit.
Families from the whole neighborhood turn out for the lively event to help raise awareness for the cause; as well as a clean car!
It is all part of being a good community member.”

Rickey Chavez, Cypress Realtor: “Today, more and more storage facilities like GreenFill Storage serve the needs of communities governed by a homeowners association (HOA’s). Many of these HOA’s do not allow the storage of boats and recreational vehicles on the homeowners’ lot. These homeowners need a safe and convenient place to park their RVs, boats, trailers, and other restricted items.
Having a nearby storage facility that offers 24-hour access and weekend availability ensures sunseekers can access their expensive toys when they need them most. It provides a shaded, protected spot to store these possessions with plugins to keep batteries charged for the day when they are ready to grab the grub and go play at the lake. Or even head to the mountains at a moment’s notice!"

Mr. Howard: “Rickey mentioned some of the HOA restrictions. Many of these HOA’s also do not allow their residents to hold garage sales. We host these from one of our available large carports; they have become a great way to give back to our local communities. Additionally, we love to arrange entertainment from a local band and invite a local food truck or two. Families drop in with their children for what becomes a fun and friendly neighborhood party."

Mr. Ibarra, AKA’s CFO; also co-owner of Michele Beck Accounting located in Keller and Dallas, Texas: “Also, in the future we will be adding solar powered recharging stations for electrical vehicles (EV’s). Our customers have stored every kind of business-related and specialty material at our facility, from surplus cases of Little Debbie® cakes to boxes of outdated medical files. Mechanics, landscapers, and construction contractors store heavy equipment and all their hardware. These conscientious customers are trending toward using more vehicles powered by electricity. These reduced cost charging stations will be a great value to our community, our customers, and the environment. We will also make electrically powered delivery and utility trucks available to rent. This will provide an economical and environmentally conscience way to move large bulky items into storage units."

Increasing Value to our Investors

Mr. Howard: “We have also found that for many investors, self-storage is their best real estate investment choice.” (See ‘Why Self-Storage’ by AKA Partners’)

Adam Ibarra: “In our case, solar generation assets create additional value for investors through tax sheltering. Not only does the investor get accelerated depreciation to achieve a higher post-tax yield and great cash flow from the solar tax credits to invest in other highly profitable opportunities, at the same time they are doing the right thing for the environment which was the main goal for forming GreenFill Storage.”

Mr. Howard: “I think another attractive aspect of storage unit investment is their historical record of being relatively recession resistant, having shown higher returns than alternative real estate investments in the last two market downturns.” “Also, the increasing mobility needs of ‘Gen-X’ and ‘Millennial’ customers has increased their desire for apartment living, which in turn has increased their storage needs. They often travel with little notice for extended periods of time. This all translates to short-term storage needs. We’ll happily store their climbing gear, fashion jeans and Puma sneakers until they return from their latest adventure.”

Why Greenfill Storage is the Best Choice

Mr. Howard: “Today, with everyone having such a strong opinion about every issue confronting society, it is important to not only be clear about who you are but what you stand for. We want to be known as an organization who stands behind the communities, consumers and investors we serve in with an environmental common-sense manner. That’s why we adopted the tag line ‘because we care about you and the environment’. To us this is something we feel, and believe is in our DNA.”

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