An Interview with Former Firefighter Turned Self-Storage Investor
- by boxwell/January 13, 2022
Boxwell is a strong proponent of multidimensional, well-rounded living. Our customers are as varied as you can imagine. We love learning about our clients’ lives outside of their work in the storage industry. For example, there are storage operators who are firefighters, athletes, restaurant owners, doctors, parents of twins, and students. For this week’s blog, we found out more about one of our multifaceted customers.
Ian Horowitz is a former firefighter who is now a self-storage investor. Along with his business partner (also a former firefighter), Ian owns Budget Mini Storage. They opened their first location in Little Rock, Arkansas. Read on to see why they made the transition to storage. In addition, take a look at how this self-storage investor adds Boxwell’s relocatable self-storage units to his facilities.
Until this past September, Ian was a firefighter for the City of Baltimore. For the past 15 years, he worked in the neighborhood where the HBO series, The Wire was filmed. Initially, he and his business partner dabbled in residential real estate while still on the fire crew. Eventually, they switched their careers completely. Now, as a self-storage investor, Ian says he, “…made enough revenue from real estate to be able to leave firefighting. I miss the guys on the crew. It was the best job in the world, but it was time to move on and pursue our investing careers. And of course, now we get to spend much more time with our families!”
Here is Boxwell’s interview with Ian Horowitz, current self-storage investor and owner of Budget Mini Storage. He illustrates just how lucrative it can be use relocatables in storage:
Why did you get into storage?
HOROWITZ: We got into storage since we were starting to get priced out of the residential market. We were looking for market diversification. We didn’t want the the heavy case management that residential real estate comes with. Luckily, we stumbled on self-storage! It allows us to remotely manage our properties from anywhere in the world.
Why did you choose Boxwell relocatables for your site?
HOROWITZ: Boxwell was our choice because of the service that was provided by Frank Pendleton and the Boxwell team. Sure, the price per foot helped with our choice. But in the end, it was Frank who helped us realize the benefits of utilizing relocatable boxes. We could get them quickly, and we could rent them as premium units. And we could build on land that was deemed unable to use due setback requirements of the jurisdictions.
What did your site originally look like? (i.e. Did you start with a dirt lot or was your site pre-established?)
HOROWITZ: We had a pre-existing site that was only about 10,000 sf on a tiny lot. We found that we could remove the fence and place the relocatable units to get around the setback requirements. This added about 6,000 sf to our site and our expenses remained the same. We did have to place stone where the units were going to meet the grade of the blacktop.
How did you decide layout, product mix, number of units, etc.?
HOROWITZ: All of that was decided by Boxwell. We trusted the experts to properly lay out our site and maximize the rentable square footage.
How was the delivery and installation?
HOROWITZ: Delivery and installation were streamlined. The installers were knowledgeable and able to make decisions on the fly for the success of the site. We all know how the engineers who never leave the office try to pack stuff in that is not practical on site. This happens in all construction. The Boxwell installers were able to resolve on site and on the fly!
What sort of relationship have you developed with our team?
HOROWITZ: Frank has become a friend. We have even started to mentor his son on investing in self-storage. Frank’s son is in the Navy and training to fly the FA18 Super Hornet jet. We share a commonality by being a firefighter and his service in the military. Frank also values his client relationships; we went to one of the best steak dinners we ever had with him!
How have the units increased your facility’s revenue?
HOROWITZ: I would have to dig on that. What I can say now is that Frank told us a how we would rent the Boxwell units not only for a higher price, but he has had several clients rent them as they were being installed. Sure enough, when were having ours installed, we had a similar experience. Our 8×10 units were renting for 20% more than our 10×10 units (since they were brand new). And we rented two units the day they were being installed! Looks like Frank manifested us some good luck.
What feedback have your customers given?
HOROWITZ: No feedback is good feedback in this business. The relocatable units rent just as well (if not better) than our traditional units. None of the customers can tell the difference.
At Boxwell, we believe that the success of your business depends not only on the quality of your product or service but also on the longevity of your clients. Customer care, customer service, customer support…whatever you call it, is super important for every business. The key is knowing how to build and maintain relationships with your clients and partners. At its core, quality customer service is about making sure your customers feel valued, treated fairly, and appreciated by your business. Over time, your personalized efforts with customers will develop into deeper connections, and eventually loyalty.
Listen to your customers’ needs, go over their questions with them, and be willing to work to solve any issues or concerns. Genuinely get to know your customers and continually check in with them to see what you could improve upon. Roll up your sleeves and get in the action to prove that this relationship is important to you.