Herby Bowman wants to make a deal – and he’s hoping to make a lot of them in coming years.
Bowman, formerly the director of business development for Public Storage, recently joined Store Space Self Storage as the firm’s new senior director of business development. His mandate: grow the company from the 80 properties that Store Space currently owns, operates or has under agreement in 20 states.
Known for its proprietary in-store kiosks and other technologies designed to help facilities operate more efficiently, the Florida-based Store Space, founded about four years ago, may not match the company’s growth rate over the past two years, when it quadrupled the number of properties it owns or manages in the U.S.
But Bowman said Store Space, whose facilities are now mostly concentrated in the eastern and southern portions of the country, definitely has ambitious expansion plans for the future.
“We’re going to be very aggressive,” says Bowman. “We want to grow quickly.”
Bowman, who is based out of Tulsa, recently talked with Storable about Store Space’s deal-making strategies and its plans for expansion in coming years.
Storage Beat: You’ve said you were attracted to Store Space because of its “flexible” approach toward deal-making. What did you mean by that?
Herby Bowman: Rather than looking at a potential deal and just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ Store Space will ask how does this deal work best for everyone and what can we bring to the table to make a facility owner or developer more prolific—and make Store Space more successful along the way. To that end, we’re looking for potential opportunities where someone may need a little equity or debt or a partnership or help with due diligence. We want to know if there’s something we can bring to the table to make us all more successful.
You’ve said that you think other self-storage players may be too rigid in their deal-making approach. What did you mean by that?
I think most of the operation partners, or third-party management companies, have only one way that they do business. With some of them, I would even go as far as to say to say that they take a cookie-cutter approach to deals—either your property fits with their (strategy) or it doesn’t. That’s not the way Store Space looks at it.
Store Space is now in 20 states. Do you see expanding into other states and, if so, where and why?
Yes, we’re looking into expanding into many more states. I’d say one of the great things about Store Space is that we’re not as geographically tied to a certain region. Some of the operating companies won’t operate in an area unless they’re a 20-minute drive away (from another facility). We don’t do that at all. We look for ways to make a deal work, rather than look for reasons to turn deals down.
Do you see getting into all 50 states, or close to all 50 states?
Anyplace where it makes sense, yes, we’re interested. We’re not going to turn down a deal just because it’s in a certain state. As an example, most of our properties are in the eastern or southern states but we’re working on a few deals currently up in the Seattle area. That wouldn’t make sense to a lot of other companies, but it makes sense to us.
How big would you want to grow Store Space’s overall portfolio over the next three years or so?
We want to grow as quickly as possible. If we can capitalize on the opportunities to grow fast, I would say we could potentially double (in size) in the next 12 months.
There are a lot of new investment players chasing self-storage deals today. Is it getting harder to find good acquisition deals these days?
I would say definitely, especially if you’re looking for straight acquisition deals. Plays like that are not as easy (to find) as they used to be. It’s because there’s a lot of buyers out there with deep pockets. This might make straight acquisition deals more difficult, but it also opens up more opportunities in deal-making approaches.
Where do you see the self-storage industry in five years?
I think it’s moving towards more consolidations. Definitely more consolidations. You can see that with some of the big purchases of late. So, yes, a more consolidated industry.