Tag - Storage

What Are the Top 10 Largest Self Storage Companies in the U.S.?

Self Storage Companies

Although small, independent storage companies exist across the country, a handful of major chains dominate the industry. These chains have facilities in several states and have enough room to hold a substantial amount of stored items. It pays to keep track of the “big players” in the storage business as they often have the largest auctions and the most units to choose from. Here are the top 10 storage companies in the country, ranked by overall square footage across their facilities:

1.) Public Storage Inc. This California-based company has 2,064 storage facilities in 38 states as well as locations in Europe. The company first opened its doors in 1972, and now it provides 142 million square feet of storage space to its customers. Storage units range from small lockers to 10 x 30 foot units and parking spaces for RV's and boats. In addition to offering storage spaces, it provides some basic moving supplies such as boxes and tape. Each Public Storage facility usually has an auction once a month.

2.) Extra Space Storage. This company's headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah. It operates in 35 states, with a total of 882 facilities containing 585,000 units altogether. The company has been in business for more than 30 years. In addition to storage units and lockers, ESS facilities include parking spaces for boats and vehicles. Extra Space Storage maintains a blog on its company website that provides information about the storage industry, including information for auction-hunters. The company's various facilities have auctions on a monthly basis.

3.) U-Haul International Inc. Perhaps better known for its truck rental service, U-Haul is a household name among people looking to move and store their personal belongings. The company's headquarters are located in Phoenix, Arizona, and it maintains 1,144 facilities across the country in all 50 states. In addition to the storage lockers housed on U-Haul premises, the company also stores “U-Pack” containers. These are customer-packed shipping containers that can be stored at the facility. Not every U-Haul location offers storage, but those that do will generally have auctions on a monthly or as-needed basis.

4.) CubeSmart. This company was founded in 2004 in Wayne, Pennsylvania and has already expanded to include 477 storage facilities in 28 states. Altogether, the company owns more than 31 million square feet of storage space across the country. CubeSmart offers different storage options for students, military personnel and more; it also provides vehicle storage and commercial storage spaces for businesses. Units range in size from 5x5' to 10x30'. The company has a storage listing on its website that provides details of upcoming storage auctions at each of its facilities.

5.) Sovran Self Storage Inc. Sovran is also known as Uncle Bob's, and the company has been in business since 1984. The company is based in Buffalo, New York and maintains 451 storage facilities across 26 states. In addition to private and commercial storage, the company also offers truck rentals and vehicle storage. Facilities hold auctions on an as-needed basis.

6.) Derrel's Mini Storage Inc. This company is based in Fresno, California, where it was founded in 1963. It is a major self-storage company in California, with 53 locations between Bakersfield and Sacramento. There are no facilities currently operating outside of California, but the company does have plans to expand. The company handles all of its auctions through Whittemore Auction Service, and details about upcoming auctions can be found on the auctioneer's website.

7.) Strategic Capital Holdings LLC. More commonly known as Smart Stop Self-Storage, this company has 120 facilities in 17 states. It was founded in 2004 and is now actively expanding throughout the U.S. and Canada; it is aggressively seeking more property to acquire as it grows its business. The company offers both personal and commercial storage as well as vehicle storage. The Smart Stop website offers a listing of all upcoming storage auctions for its facilities, updated on a weekly basis.

8.) Storage Mart. Based in Columbia, Maryland, Storage Mart has 132 facilities in 15 states. It is currently working on spreading and growing its business. Storage Mart has been in business since 1974 and is an active participant in local communities and charitable causes in every state it does business in, including offering a scholarship program for students. Auctions occur on an as-needed basis and are published in local media.

9.) Simply Self Storage. This company is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and has facilities in 16 states. Overall, there are 116 facilities owned by this company, and an additional 20 properties have recently been purchased for expansion. Storage units vary from 5x5' to 10x30', and vehicle storage spaces are available for cars, RV's and boats as well. The company's website does provide auction information for its facilities.

10.) Platinum Storage Group. Located in Laguna Hills, California, this business manages 106 facilities in 15 states. It's more commonly known by its trademark name, Storage Direct, and has been in business since 2000. In addition to both climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled storage for individuals and businesses, it also offers covered and uncovered vehicle storage. Storage Direct holds auctions at local facilities monthly or on an as-needed basis.

As you get more familiar with the storage facilities in your area, experience will teach you which are the most valuable. Until then, this list can help guide you toward the biggest and best storage companies in the country.

Storage Aggregators Hijack Business Listings


With the storage business gaining so much popularity in recent years, it only makes sense that other businesses would find a way to jump into the industry. One of the things you've probably come across while searching for a storage unit is a storage aggregator site.

These sites collect data on storage facilities, and many people visit these aggregate sites to find information about storage facilities in their area. What you might not necessarily realize is that some of these aggregators are essentially stealing customers from the storage facilities and then reselling the customers back to them, In some cases, these practices are predatory and even illegal.

Aggregator sites get started through partnerships with storage facilities. Essentially, the aggregator will collect reservations from potential customers and sell those reservations back to the storage facility itself for a “finder fee.” This is very similar to the way a hotel or airline reservation site would work, and it acts as direct competition against the storage facility. Rather than allowing customers to find the facility directly, traffic is driven toward the aggregator site. This sets up severe competition between varying storage facilities and drives profits down as different companies struggle to offer prices competitive enough to attract business.

Some of these aggregator sites take things a step further by actually pirating information from the storage companies. They will create fake business listings in a storage facility's name and list them online in the Yellow Pages or other business directories. Instead of listing the storage facility's phone number and website, they list their own. This way, customers will contact them believing that they're making reservations with the storage facility itself; instead, they're dealing with an aggregator. This practice is illegal, it has obvious negative implications toward the facility's actual brand, and it can be used to essentially use one company as a public face or identity while selling services to a competitor.

One of the largest storage aggregators using this tactic is SpareFoot.com. Notice the photo above of a Uncle Bob's Self Storage listing on Citysearch.com. Everything looks legitimate; however, if you call the phone number listed, you will reach a SpareFoot employee. What is going on here is not only unethical but illegal. A quick search on Google revealed 160,000 results with the phone number (866) 666-5178. A majority of these results are misappropriated online business listings for storage facilities across the country.

Other industries, including hotels and airlines, are also attempting to draw away from using these aggregators and focus on building their own client base. It's a difficult task for mature companies, but storage facilities can be a bit more nimble in their approach thanks to their size and relative newness as an industry.

As a customer, you can do your part to end piracy and reduce the ability of an aggregator to steal the identity and business of a storage facility. Always try to deal with the facility itself rather than a third-party site for transactions where money will exchange hands, and keep an eye out for listings that may have incorrect information.

If you own or manage a storage facility, you can use a service like Yext.com to search for incorrect business listings. If incorrect information is detected, you can update your storage facility's information to reflect the correct address, phone number and other contact information. Once you update the information on Yext, the site will then locate and correct listings on more than 35 other sites across the web including Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, Citysearch and WhitePages. This will help ensure that information online is up-to-date and accurate, and it will prevent customers from unwittingly using an unethical aggregation service when they mean to deal with the company itself.

So, what do you think of storage aggregators and what they are doing to the storage industry? Please leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.


Unprecedented Moving and Storage Auction in Coppell, Texas

Moving & Storage Auction

Storage auction hunters in the Coppell area should be sure to set some time aside for a massive auction on November 24, 2012. Bekins Moving Solutions, located at 505 Airline Drive in Coppell, Texas, is holding a large auction to satisfy a lien.

The Pitzer Auction Company will be overseeing the sale of an impressive 224 storage vaults. The exact contents of the vaults will be discovered at the auction, but most contain household items, office equipment and personal effects.

This cash-only auction is expected to have a large turnout. The facility only has one auction per year, and last year’s had quite a few people in attendance. People from Coppell and surrounding areas are encouraged to come check out the auction and possibly come home with the contents of a few vaults.

The auction is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and will last until the last unit is sold. Because this will be an all-day event, food trucks will be available on the premises to offer beverages and snacks to buyers. Bidders must register at 8:30 a.m. the morning of the sale unless they pre-register online at StevePitzer.com. If you do register online, you will receive a confirmation email with your bidder number. There is no cost to register.

How to Get a Title for a Vehicle Purchased at a Storage Auction

Vehicle Title

Vehicles aren't necessarily common finds at storage auctions, but they are found from time to time. From cars to ATVs, boats and tractors, these vehicles pose a unique challenge to buyers. Unless you plan to simply scrap the vehicle and sell it for parts, you will need a title for it. The title is necessary when registering, insuring or re-selling the vehicle, so your hands are tied until you can resolve the matter of a missing title.

First, know that in order to buy a vehicle at auction, it must be known to be free of lien. The storage facility will check with the DMV to see whether the car is paid off. If it's still in a lien holder's interests, it cannot be auctioned off with the rest of the contents. If it is free of liens, the facility can proceed with the auction.

In Texas, there are some specific processes the storage facility needs to follow before auctioning off a vehicle. In addition to checking for lien holders, the owner must obtain a VTR-265-SSF form. This will be given to you so that you can complete transferring the vehicle to your name. Here is the material that the facility owner should provide you with so that you can give it to the DMV:

  • A copy of the tenant's lease showing that the tenant agreed to the foreclosure terms
  • The completed and signed VTR-265-SSF form
  • Verification of Texas title and registration (the facility will clear this with the DMV in advance)
  • Proof that the “Notice of Claim” letter was sent to the vehicle's owner
  • Proof of auto insurance if you plan to register the vehicle.

It's also a good idea to bring your receipt from the auction and a newspaper clipping of the auction's ad, just to be on the safe side. Although all of this can be a bit of a hassle, most of the leg-work should already be done for you by the facility owner. If you're concerned, you can check in advance that the owners are aware of this process, but most owners should be.

Also be aware that these requirements vary from one state to the next. If you're not in Texas, you'll need to check the local laws to ensure you obtain the vehicle legally and there are no concerns with obtaining a title. Also be sure to have enough money set aside to cover the costs of titling and registering the vehicle that you win at auction.

Charity Storage Auctions

Charity Storage

Holding an auction for charity isn't new, but charity storage auctions are a recent development that helps bring communities together. Charity Storage is an organization sponsored by Storage Wars, the Self Storage Association and other charities and storage facilities across the country. Since its inception in 2012, it's already become a sweeping success, with several thousand participating storage facilities and over $40,000 raised for charities nationwide.

The way it works is pretty simple: People donate their unwanted items by dropping them off in a storage unit, which is then auctioned off and the profits are donated to charity.

The drop-off points get filled up in one of two ways. People who have heard about the auctions and want to participate can leave donations anonymously at the unit. Additionally, existing tenants of the storage company can leave items they no longer want to store but don't want to sell or throw away on their own. When people move their things out of a unit, they often want to leave behind bulky unwanted items like appliances and furniture; instead of going to the dump, these items can go to the drop-off point to make money for charity.

Any storage company can sign up to participate in the program, and there are drop-off points in thousands of cities across the United States and Canada. Here in Texas alone there are more than 4,000 storage facilities which could potentially become drop-off points. That translates to a lot of charity auctions!

The auctions themselves work exactly like any other storage auction. Participants bid on the content of a unit, and the contents must be emptied out and the unit cleaned within 48 hours. Anything inside the unit becomes the property of the winning bidder, who can then keep, sell or donate the items. As with all auctions, there's some risk involved, and the quality of the items will vary from one auction to the next.

If you've never participated in any sort of storage unit auction, a charity auction may be a good chance to get your feet wet. Because the items are donated, you're less likely to run into unsanitary conditions or find strange or unpleasant things inside. You probably won't make a fortune off of anything you win, but you can feel good about knowing that your money is going to a charity so it's not a wasted investment.

For storage auction veterans, these charity auctions provide a great way to give back to the community while still doing what you love. While Storage Wars might give a glimpse of the excitement behind the industry, Charity Storage helps to show the community the heart and soul behind the people in this line of work.

If you'd like to get involved in charity storage auctions, you can check the CharityStorage.com website to find a drop-off location near you. You can also call their operation headquarters in Newport Beach, California at (949) 748-5923.

Meet Some Of Texas’s Best Storage Auctioneers

Texas Storage Auctioneers

The following auctioneers specialize in storage lien sales in Texas. I decided to highlight these auctioneers for two purposes. The first reason is to familiarize new storage auction buyers with the auctioneers in our area. The second reason is to provide a resource for storage facilities who are currently looking for a professional to conduct their auction. We did not receive any compensation from these auctioneers for this endorsement, we are recommending them based on their professionalism alone.

Luther Davis AuctioneerDavis Auctioneers is a family owned and operated business that has been in the auction profession since 1988. A large portion of their business involves conducting lien holder sales for storage facilities, including a majority of the U-Haul storage centers located throughout Texas. Besides storage unit auctions, Luther Davis also handles estate auctions, real estate auctions, online auctions, benefit auctions & farm, ranch & business liquidations. In June 2008, Luther Davis was selected as the 2008 State Champion Auctioneer at the Texas Auctioneer Association's annual meeting and convention. Luther is a member of the following associations; National Auctioneers Association, Texas Auctioneers Association, Texas Self Storage Association, Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors, Greater Fort Worth Area Realtors & the Fellowship of Christian Auctioneers. For more information, you can reach Luther at luther@davisauctiontx.com.

Buddy Thomas is the owner and principal auctioneer for Thomas & Associates Auctioneers. He specializes in self storage lien auctions and currently services over 60 locations in Texas, from Sherman to McAllen. Buddy has been licensed as an auctioneer by the state of Texas since 1993. He also is a past President of the Texas Auctioneers Association, having served as President in 2006-2007. He has conducted auctions throughout the United States, while employed by a national auction company. Auctions conducted include major business liquidations for Fortune 500 companies, FDIC, hospitals, machine shops, IRS, hardware stores, major banking entities, farm liquidations, and large & small estates. He is a member of Texas Self Storage Association and Texas Auctioneers Association. You can contact him for your storage auction needs as well as on site business and estate liquidations. Update: Buddy Thomas passed away on October 31st, 2014. He will be greatly missed. Chad Larson has taken over Buddy's accounts. You can reach Chad at Auctions@BuddyThomas.com.

Colonel Walt Cade retired from a position in a tax accounting firm where he specialized in tax law and financial planning. He completed the program at the Texas Auction Academy under Mike Jones, and now works full-time as an auctioneer. As one of the most productive auctioneers in the country, Walt runs about 50 storage auctions each year. In addition to storage auctions, he also works on real estate and ranch auctions. Walt appears as an auctioneer on Storage Wars Texas and maintains a website that shows his upcoming auction schedule. You can reach Walt at taxman14865@sbcglobal.net.

Terry Waters Auctioneering is a family-owned business located in Aledo, Texas that services cities throughout the state. Terry Waters handles storage, consignment and estate auctions as well as business liquidations. His wife, Lou Ann, assists with bids and handles check-in/check-out with Auction Flex software. They both work with other auction companies to provide bid calling and ring work services. Terry and his wife are graduates from the Texas Auction Academy and a professional member of the Ringmen's Institute. You can contact Terry at terry@twauctions.com.

Headaches Facility Managers Experience With Storage Auctions

Storage Facility Manager

I asked the following question to our friend Zach Proser, with Storage Auctions Kings, to get his inside perspective as a former storage facility manager.

Zach ProserSo Zach, while you were a storage facility manager, what type of problems did you go through in preparation for a storage unit auction. What type of headaches did you go through on auction day? Was their ever a particular person or event that got you really frustrated?

Great question, Travis.

Preparing for a storage auction involves about 3 and a half months of work. At the very bleeding edge minimum, we cannot sell anyone’s unit before 48 days have passed in which they have not made any payment of any amount. This means we are trying to get in touch with our tenants by phone, e-mail, SMS text, and snail mail. Speaking of snail mail, we have to send out, by law, delinquency notices by mail and document them and keep time-stamped copies in our tenant’s files.

I think what is lost on a lot of our tenants is the fact that we are trying to help them. As managers, we gain nothing from selling their belongings besides an angry previous tenant (or family of tenants!) and a headache. The lengths that I, and other managers I have worked with, have gone to in order to help a delinquent tenant try to hold onto their things border on the ridiculous.

Amazingly enough, it’s these same people that you go so far out of your way to help that end up burning you the worst and causing you the most problems . Bad attitudes, misplaced blame, nasty phone calls, downright juvenile games of phone tag…I’ve seen em’ all.

In terms of the auction day itself – usually I’m feeling relieved by the actual sale date rolls around. It’s almost over. You get a rush of phone calls, e-mails and impatient strangers in your office and parking lot, but most of them are in a genial enough mood because half of them are just along to see a show. The one guy that had all three of our facilities in the same region venting to one another on the phone was a guy that managers of yore had actually warned us about by name.

Because we had three facilities in a relatively close area, we would stagger the auctions and run them all on the same day, so that our same group of motivated bidders could hit all three. Well, this guy starts at our first facility in the early morning, and takes advantage of the manager there because it was his first time running an auction. He says he needs to race down into town to catch our next company auction, and that he’ll be right back to finish cleaning out the two outdoor 10×10?s he just bought there. Well, our new manager didn’t get a security deposit off him because he took him at his word.

Next, he comes down to my facility. He and his partner are obnoxious and have to continually be asked to step back out of the units whenever the doors are rolled up. He’s violating the thresholds and even poking his mitts around in the luggage inside. Finally he ends up buying two more units at my facility, but when it comes time to settle the bill in the office 10 minutes later, he needs to run across the street to get cash out of the ATM. Well, we’re trying to close up now!

He and his partner go AWOL. We wait 30 minutes. We get irritated. We ask if anyone else present has his cell number because if he’s not back in 10 minutes we’re going to give the units to the next highest bidder. They finally show back up, loaded drunk and they leave their truck in the middle of the parking lot. I wasn’t a happy camper and he got a stern warning.

Ultimately, he came back to the first facility after hours and used his buyer’s gate code to get in. Then, after he got everything he wanted out of his units, he left our manager two truckloads of trash, dirty tape and muddy streaks throughout the halls. Suffice it to say he’s banned from our future auctions.

Otherwise, auctions, from our perspective, are always just distant possibilities humming along in the background. As most people get into the last stages of delinquency, a couple of strategically worded e-mails usually persuade them to come in and settle their bills.

Storage Auctioneers Had Record Earnings In 2011

Record Earnings

In the past, storage facilities rarely ever recovered their lost rent & fees from the sale of a delinquent tenant's unit. Nowadays, this is not the case. Storage auctioneers, however, have always made a good living off these sales, especially the auctioneers who handle the larger storage facility chains like U-Haul Storage Centers, Extra Space Storage and Uncle Bob's Self Storage.

I have several acquaintances that are auctioneers and from my understanding, it’s a good time to be an auctioneer in the storage auction niche. Fueled by shows like Auction Hunters & Storage Wars, there has been a migration of new bidders attending storage auctions in America. Storage units are selling for double, even triple the amount they used to sell for and storage auctioneers & storage facilities are laughing all the way to the bank.

Most storage auctioneers earn 10-25% of what the storage unit sells for at auction. On average, there are 3-5 storage units for sale at each facility, and on some days, an auctioneer may have 10 or more facilities to conduct auctions at. These auctioneers could easily earn several thousand dollars or more in a single day. Not too shabby for a days work.

In 2012, storage auctioneers are expected to have record earnings as well. The storage auction reality shows have renewed their contracts for additional seasons so, there doesn’t appear to be any signs of a slow down in their near future.