Podcast Featuring Boxwell

   
   
  • by boxwell/March 11, 2021
  • brenda@boxwell.co
Podcasts date back to the 80’s — before even the internet existed. They were more like recorded blogs, but they didn’t have a means for listening. With the rise of technology and everything that starts with an “i”, podcast took off and have become quite popular in mainstream. The topics for podcasts are endless. Plus, people can listen to their favorites while driving, exercising, cooking and cleaning — we enjoy multi-tasking! At Boxwell, we love participating in podcast interviews within the industry. Each podcast featuring Boxwell offers a glimpse into our company that isn’t otherwise marketed: these interviews are often relaxed and can offer a realness unlike articles and website pages.

Below is the transcription of a recent podcast featuring Rod Bolls and Laura Brooks of Boxwell. Marshall Baker with Commercial Real Estate Startup asks some deep questions, and he gets a few surprising answers!

Rod Bolls:

I’m Rod Bolls. I’m the founder Boxwell. Boxwell is a custom provider of portable storage containers to various industries all over the world. All of our containers are 100% weather resistant. The life cycle is 20 to 30 years. We use the same raw material as ocean containers — the same welding, the fabricating, the painting – so the longevity is very similar.

Marshall Baker:

Welcome to the Commercial Real Estate Startup Podcast. We’re on a mission to help real estate entrepreneurs find financial freedom in the commercial space. Learn how CRE professionals got started and how they found a path to success. This is your host Marshall Baker. 
Our guests today are Rod Bolls and Laura Brooks with Boxwell. Boxwell is an industry leading supplier of custom self-storage units and portable storage containers based out of Boulder, Colorado. Rod is the founder of Boxwell and has worked in the storage industry for over 13 years as a vendor of steel portable storage containers. He started Boxwell in 2015. Laura is a Strategic Account Manager at Boxwell. With a focus on excellence and engineering manufacturing logistics and customer service, Boxwell has become one of the top suppliers in the world of portable storage containers. 
Welcome Rod and Laura. It’s been my experience that a founder of a great business always has an elevator pitch. Can you kick us off with the elevator pitch for Boxwell?

Rod Bolls:

We go to great lengths to make our customers more successful, and we do that in a lot of different ways. We don’t provide just a box, but we provide all the resources they would need to achieve their goals and to be successful.

Marshall Baker:

Rod, what inspired you to leave your leadership role with a company in the storage vertical and go out on your own and start the company Boxwell?

Rod Bolls:

I’ve always worked for myself, and I was given an opportunity at the previous company to build their business — and I had some experience in that and I was the first one to come into the company and built it for seven years. It was a wonderful opportunity. I’m very grateful because I learned a lot about the industry, led a team of seven or eight people there, and was the Vice President. I just felt there was some things that weren’t being fully taken care of, one being the customer. If you’re not controlling the wagon 100%, horses will steer it in different ways. So, I just felt like there were some things on the supply chain side — the product and taking care of the customer that I wasn’t given full control of. Then I started Boxwell. 

Marshall Baker:

Are there any lessons learned during your transition to a startup or advice for others considering the startup that you would like to share?

Rod Bolls:

Big ones that come to my mind would be when you enter into a contract or an agreement with a company pay attention — close attention to non-compete clauses when you’re given an opportunity to build a business for other people. During that journey, it could take a lot of different paths. When you sign that contract seven or eight years ago, you’re not paying close attention the language in the contract. When you leave, you pay very close attention to the language in the contract. So, there was a non-solicit clause that I honored when I left — if I had negotiated that at the beginning (seven years prior), Boxwell would have grown a lot faster. This one is one example of I would give. Now, those situations create an opportunity for you as a start-up as a new company to really get out there and hustle. Laura will tell you I am I’m a positive optimistic, always look at the bright side kind of guy, but that was a very tough time because a two-year non-compete and non-solicit. Those are all your customers that you built and that you developed.

Laura Brooks:

And it puts you in the position to be very creative far as like how we’re going to market ourselves and completely think outside of the box with the way we’re doing things. So, it’s a lot of fun, too.

Rod Bolls:

It has been. I mean people don’t really think through that at the beginning. You’re excited about the opportunity and can’t wait to go out and well. Do your due diligence and really look closely at those things, because it’s been in my blood since I was a kid. I’ve always sort of been this, “I don’t like to work for anyone else — I kind of work for my own, for myself”. I’m very creative, and I’m just always there hustling and just people will say, “You’re doing that? Well, that’s outside the box, and that’s different and unique”. Pay close attention to the contracts in the agreement you sign.

Marshall Baker:

It’s great advice. So, when I talked to other founders that have previously worked at large structured companies, they often times felt stifled — and you mentioned it there in your analogy. Starting a new company can be alluring with the ability to try new things and be nimble. I’ve found on a personal level sometimes not having those guardrails can have pros as well as cons. Any words of wisdom on that subject?

Rod Bolls:

I would say all those people out there thinking about starting up business, think about your wife or your husband and your kids and your family, because if you don’t have that partner… I mean that’s probably the most important partner. I mean I have two partners that have helped capitalize Boxwell and that are behind the company, but the most important partner is your significant other, and if they’re not on the same page and they don’t understand the challenges that you’re going to face, and they’re not willing to kind of ebb and flow and bob and weave with you, it’s going to be challenging.

Marshall Baker:

Very good point.

Laura Brooks:

I just want to add to that too, just from my outside perspective. It’s staying (you know for new companies starting out) staying focused on that core product. Because when I started — oh man, we were like, “Oh, what about this? Let’s sell this. Let’s do this. Someone wants to convert the box and make it into this”.  And it’s like no, no, no, we’re just starting out. Stay focused on that core business — that low-hanging fruit like you spoke of. And not to have too much going on at once. Just saying laser focused on that core business

Marshall Baker:

Very good so you mentioned the core product. Can you tell us what set your product apart from the competition and talk through what some of the other uses you’re seeing are?

Laura Brooks:

Really what sets us apart from the competition is not only the high-quality products… so there are a lot of subtle differences which may not sound like a big deal but is someone new coming into the market buying a box, but little changes as far as the corrugated roof we’re using, our steel — things that might not sense to you now but have a huge impact on the durability and the lifecycle of the container. So, all those things are really important, but also our customer service as well. So, again, we answer the phone when you call — we’re here to help you grow your business. It’s a really exciting and fun to help people starting out. They get excited; you’re excited you’re helping them build their logo and their brand. And you see it take off, and it’s so fun! Just getting back to the fact that we’re not here just to sell a box.  We have this high-quality product with great customer service and resources. Then along the lines of doing other things, mostly we leave that to the customer. We do different things like insulated boxes, office units — but you get all kinds of calls for different things whether it’s, “I want it to be a little grow facility” you know in today’s environment, or mobile hospital units — so all kinds of stuff with the changing environment that we’re living in. But really, we just try to stick to mostly the core product of the box and couple things we do here and there. Really, we just want to do one thing and do it really well. 

Rod Bolls:

Just to add to what Laura said, we love sitting down or on zoom or over the phone and speaking with other business owners — most of these people who are in the business or getting into the business have some experience with owning and running businesses. I mean it’s all across the board, but it’s very exciting. Everyone here gets to interact with individuals who are in charge of their business making important decisions, and we get to influence the direction and the trajectory of where they’re going — and that excites us a lot!

Marshall Baker:

Excellent. Laura you mentioned the lifespan of a box. Can you speak to that a bit?

Laura Brooks:

We’re using, high quality steel that goes into our containers all stainless-steel hardware and a lot of different features that add to that lifecycle, so anywhere from like 15 to 25 years with proper care and maintenance. I mean, it’s a steel box, so it’s made to last. We ship these all over the world, so they’re made to stand up to whatever Mother Nature wants to throw at them!

Rod Bolls:

We do a lot of hot dip galvanizing to ensure the longevity steel.

Marshall Baker:

And my understanding is you can skin the outside to match an existing facility or make it a certain color.

Laura Brooks:

A lot of these self-storage owners have a brick-and-mortar, traditional buildings, so they’re looking to expand their facilities. They will ask what we can do to make it look as much like their buildings so they’re branded as seamlessly as possible. We can paint certain aspects of the container, and we will send out our color book so they can match the doors. We do roll-up doors — we’ve partnered with Janice to offer their roll-up doors, so there’s a lot we can do to try and color match to their existing facility. 

Marshall Baker:

Excellent! And Rod, you mentioned prior to the call depreciation. What is the depreciation schedule for something like this? I’m guessing it’s more advantageous than your traditional brick-and-mortar?

Rod Bolls:

The depreciation schedule that our customers would be more like seven years.

Marshall Baker:

Wow! So, a huge advantage there you get accelerated depreciation on an asset that’s going to last 15-20 years. 

Laura Brooks:

Right, and you can actually — because it falls under equipment, you can right it off in the first year. So, some people like to do that.

Marshall Baker:

Yes, the bonus depreciation — the one-year depreciation, I know a lot of folks that are taking advantage of that right now, so that that is huge.

Rod Bolls:

Yes, and the fact that it’s you know, like Laura said, classified as equipment — its relocatable, moveable, you’re able to pick these up with forklifts, load it at a facility and move them around, position them in different places…it just gives the owner a lot of flexibility with different ways they could utilize the unit.  

Marshall Baker:

Yes, it sounds extremely flexible. So, how do you see the custom portable storage business evolving in the next three to five years?

Rod Bolls:

We sell a product in portable storage and self-storage — those are our two verticals. In portable storage, it’s still at its infancy PODS 20 years ago paved the way, you know knocked down all the trees in the jungle, and there been a lot of companies coming behind them helping pave the way, but it’s still only 20 years old. I think as more people become consumers, specifically become more aware of PODS. It’s 20 years old – okay? In 30 years, I feel the like 20 to 30 years down the road I mean portable storage will be in my opinion what self-storage is today that’s sort of where I see the evolution of this industry is because it’s just for one simple reason – convenience. It’s more convenient for me or our customers to bring a container to you at your home or your business. You load it, and then it can stay there, or they can come pick it up and bring it to the facility where they store it. Or if you’re moving, we’ll bring a box to your house your business, you’ll load it, and we’ll move you across country to your final destination. That’s just more convenient and just makes more sense. 

Laura Bolls:

Yes, it’s less expensive expensive for customers to do it that way as opposed to white glove service, and they can do it at their convenience, too.

Marshall Baker:

Is there any information you would like to share about minimum quantities pricing available financing? Maybe touch on some of those topics.

Laura Bolls:

Yes, absolutely. We order in batches of 12. It depends on the size unit that you go with, but typically you order in batches of 12, so that’s our minimum order.  That’s because we include shipping in our cost. Everything’s custom manufactured and then shipped directly to our customers. We do not offer any financing, but we work with several companies that have great lease financing options. They’ve all been really great, and they do a lot of quick turnaround on approval which is really nice. 

Rod Bolls:

Marshall also asked about pricing.

Laura Brooks:

Price, oh yeah! 

Marshall Baker:

Not to put you on the spot — maybe just give us a range.

Laura Brooks:

It’s always tough because there’s so many different features and upgrades that change the price, but you can figure anywhere from 21 dollars to 28 dollars a square foot.

Marshall Baker:

Okay. Very reasonable.

Rod Bolls:

That’s delivered — and then we also offer an installation service for customers, which has been very popular lately.

Laura Brooks:

Yes, it’s turnkey, and that makes it super simple.

Marshall Baker:

Excellent. So, switching gears, what advice would you give to a motivated person about starting a company? I know we touched on the household partner which I completely agree there’s probably not a more pivotal person involved, but any other advice you’d have for someone?

Rod Bolls:

I was lucky to have grown up as a military brat. My father was a sergeant major in the Army, so I had a lot of experiences as a young man with accountability and discipline and organization and things like that. At the time, I wasn’t thankful for it, but I would look at your family, your upbringing, your partner, just sort of your skill set. What do you bring to the table? is this something that you really think you’re going to be successful at? Then I would go and talk to friends and family and other people and try to find mentors. I was very lucky to in college and grad school to have people around me who really mentored me, and I could have a conversation with – and they were brutally honest. I took the good in the bad and I was able to form who I became as a as a professional and as a as a man later down road. 

Marshall Baker:

Excellent. What advice have you heard that that people should ignore before they start up?

Rod Bolls:

That you’re going to fail. I mean, I just believe wholeheartedly that everyone can be successful. If somebody tells you you’re not going to make it, that just motivates me even more and I’ve been told that several times — you’re not going to have any success doing that. That’s my attitude in general.

Marshall Baker:

Very good. Very good.  If you had it to do all over again, what career would you pursue and why?

Rod Bolls:

I was home last night, and I find a lot of peace — you’re going to think this is hilarious, but in arranging flowers. I really find a lot of peace. My wife will, once a week she’ll go and she’ll buy a bunch of flowers, and they’ll be in the sink when I get home. I cut flowers and arrange vases full of flowers throughout our house. So, I think I might start a floral shop somewhere! 

Marshall Baker:

That’s a fantastic answer, and I never would have guessed that in a million years! 

Laura Brooks:

Right? And I’m laughing because I love it. We always have fresh flowers here in the office.

Laura Brooks:

A lot of plants here, are there’s a lot of oxygen in the office.

At Boxwell, we aim to grown and thrive — as individuals, as a team, and as members of our local community. We are thankful for our health and the success of our business, and we work to support those who are in need. Through innovation and perseverance, we set out to reinvent storage and create the best product in the industry!

CRE Startup Podcast with Rod Bolls and Laura Brooks of Boxwell

Rod Bolls and Laura Brooks featured on Commercial Real Estate STARTUP Podcast. Listen in for industry insights and to learn all about how Boxwell is #Thinkin…

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Boxwell offers drive up self-storage unitsrelocatable self-storage units, portable storage containersresidential storage containersmoving containersrestoration containers, portable offices and more. 
We provide storage solutions for all kinds of businesses. We achieve this by staying true to our product and really listening to our customers, our partners and each other.
Each storage solution is fully customizable, expertly crafted with cutting edge materials and has the fastest assembly available. Work with a Boxwell representative to decide on an ideal, moveable storage unit mix, custom colors, door configurations and more. Once the order is placed, your Boxwells will be delivered, installed, and ready to rent.

Check out www.boxwell.co or call (303) 416-6280 today!

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