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Self-storage: The men who got rich selling empty space

It’s hard to imagine how we ever lived without self-storage options – we apparently have six times the amount of possessions compared to the previous generation. But there was a time where the idea of self-storage was so new that it took a group of individual, savvy entrepreneurs to build an entire empire and industry from the ground up.

Those men, over the last decade or so, have seen the bountiful fruits of their endeavours and as strange as it may seem, have made millions from it. In fact, our own storage industry in Britain is now one of the giants of Europe. So who are these men and what on earth inspired them to utilise these spaces for self-storage?

For Rodger Dudding, a classic car enthusiast, it was seeing all the empty buildings and garages around the fringes of towns, space which no one else wanted. He would often spend time scouting out locations in order to find the owner and find out why the property wasn’t in use and how much he could get it for. As a car lover he expected this space to be used for people to store their cars in but soon realised that this wasn’t all they could, or indeed were, being used for.

Doug Hampson took his inspiration from the storage industry in America, which has been going since the 60's – taking the industry a staggering 30 years to take off in Britain. Having lived in America his return to the UK saw him start one of the first self-storage businesses; he saw the potential in the individual storage spaces because of their simple nature. The maintenance was easy and the market was there to be taken up.

One trio of entrepreneurs already had a head start when they entered the market having come from success in the retail property industry. Nicholas Vetch, Phillip Burks and James Gibson took their knowledge of property and retail, combined it and helped the boom of the 90's for the storage industry. Having such success previously meant the trio were able to obtain the funding they required more easily than they had imagined.

All of the people now have portfolios and companies worth millions, but since the boom and the snapping up of new locations it would seem that much of the empty space needed, and the needs of the consumer, has been catered for by those already in the industry. Despite the slow-down there will always be a need for self-storage and business storage, perhaps the next multi-million pound idea could be just as simple.

Here at Simply Storage we have a variety of locations for both self-storage and business storage needs. Contact our friendly team today to find out more about how you can best utilise storage for your excess possessions and equipment.

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