A Niche for Welsh Construction
When they first appeared, you would only see them located in the back of an industrial plaza, set among nondescript manufacturing or construction buildings. Their role was thought to be one of a holding place for those with too many belongings at home. However, the role of the self-storage facility in America has evolved, along with its perception and geography. As time has passed, companies looking to either store or invest in these facilities have seen the benefits. The options available are plentiful, as well. According to REJournal.com, there are 48,500 storage facilities across the country, three times the number of McDonald’s at 14,350. The industry also generates $24 billion in annual revenue.
At approximately 20 million people, Florida has the nation’s third-highest population behind California and New York. As is the case with the other two states, Florida sees a steady influx of people moving in. With an estimated population that has increased by approximately 267,000 people a year from 2010 to 2017, the state’s amount of storage facilities is among the nation’s highest. As demand continues to rise, so will the opportunities for businesses.
Options for Owners
Ken Welsh, president and CEO of Welsh Construction, has been involved in the storage industry from both an ownership and construction level. When developing some real estate properties a few years ago, Welsh developed a three-story, air-conditioned self-storage facility in Cocoa Beach. The experience was fascinating to Welsh and provided experience down the road in building self-storage facilities for companies. Welsh has built two facilities in Sanford, with a 91,000-sq.-ft. building completed last year. The opportunity to develop more facilities for companies continues to expand, as Welsh plans to construct buildings for companies in Mulberry and Sanford, as well as for prospective clients in Brevard County.
When getting into the self-storage industry, there are many factors prospective owners analyze. For Welsh, location was important in his success. With Cocoa Beach being a destination location for those associated with the Cape, Patrick Air Force Base and Orlando, the locale provided a diverse clientele of transient and local individuals. The architecture of the facility is important as well, creating an appealing venue, but not one that oversteps its storage purpose and proves to be costly. Low ceilings and well laid-out areas allow for clients to maximize space and owners to maximize their investment. Management is also something Welsh and other self-storage owners consider.
“A lot of times, instead of having a brick-and-mortar, some businesses will put their product in storage, deliver to all of their customers and draw it out of that storage area.”
– Ken Welsh
“You can self-manage or go to a third party, and the industry has progressed to such a state that a lot of opportunities are available for third-party management,” Welsh said. “That’s the way I went, and the last two buildings we completed went that route as well.”
More Than Just Local Storage
Throughout the storage industry, the perception of storage facilities has changed over time. While they still are used for locals who may have more goods than their house can hold, they are also utilized in many other ways.
“You can have people moving into the area, and they had a lot of stuff where they came from, but now they’re downsizing, so they’ll put the stuff they don’t want to get rid of in storage,” Welsh said. “You’ll have people selling their homes and looking to stage their house, so the realtor will advise moving things out of the house, and they’ll put it in storage. Of course, with Patrick Air Force Base, you’ll have some transient situations where people come and go, so if they’re out on deployment, they’ll put their stuff in storage.”
The self-storage industry has been utilized by those affected by disasters. In the instance of a fire or flooding, furniture may need to be moved out while remediation experts repair damages. For hurricanes, Chris Norton, Welsh’s vice president of development, noted that individuals reserve space at the facilities in the event they may have to move their belongings after a storm.
Businesses also harness the functionality of self-storage facilities. Outside of being a place to house equipment or office furniture, it also is a place businesses are finding extra value in.
“We have some businesses that are just conducive to self-storage, like pharmaceutical companies,” Welsh said. “A lot of times, instead of having a brick-and-mortar, they will put their product in storage, deliver to all of their customers and draw it out of that storage area.”
The trends in storage facilities have progressed over the years as well. While there are the traditional garage-like buildings, there are also indoor facilities with smaller storage compartments that are designed like office buildings. Utilizing small spaces of land, these multi-story buildings keep costs low and provide another option for those who may not need a large amount of space. Cities are also revising local zoning codes, allowing for storage facilities in areas different from the warehouse districts they once were resigned to. More multi-level self-storage facilities across the country are being developed with shops or restaurants on the ground floor.
The self-storage industry has evolved to fit the growing demands of not only Florida’s population, but also the nation’s. For developers like Ken Welsh and Welsh Construction, the experience in the industry has allowed them to understand the market from both angles and assist others in their business goals.