Q&A: Caesar Wright on MakoRabco’s post-merger record year

Bruce Goldberg
Published March 21, 2022

The June 2021 acquisition of MakoRabco combined Carlsbad, California-based Mako Steel, with its strong West Coast presence, and Rabco Enterprises, based in Winter Garden, Florida and well-known along the East Coast. 

Now with the coasts covered, the plan is to attract more business nationwide. MakoRabco since has about doubled the number of states where it seeks business.

On March 1, MakoRabco introduced its new brand, “The Edge You Need” – complete with a new Navy blue and teal shark fin, playing off of “mako” – to stress their values of trust, honesty, passion and expertise, and to lead in a way “that is unmatched in the self-storage industry,” said Caesar Wright, executive chairman (and previously CEO since 1997). He joined Mako Steel in 1994, one year after the company began operations.

“We became the first installer and provider of self-storage buildings,” said Wright, 51. “We work specifically in lightweight steel. We come into the site when slabs have been poured, and we come in with the steel package after that.” The company is known for designing, supplying and installing self-storage facilities.

Adds Ingeborg Carr, chief marketing officer for MakoRabko, who joined the company in June 2021: “By having a recognized name in the East, we now are truly nationwide and present in every state. Our regional field managers work with our customers to make sure their needs are being filled with the right product, that their project is being built on time.” 

The company is focusing on integrating IT systems now, which will take six to eight weeks, Wright said. The company also announced the promotion of John Cross to CEO after two years as COO.   

Storable caught up with Wright after he returned home from the Self Storage Association Spring Conference and Trade Show in Orlando. 

Q: What did the merger last year enable you to do what you couldn’t do before?

Wright: We’re honed in on being a leader in design, supply and installation of self-storage facilities. We wanted to really plant a tall, strong flag on the East Coast. That was the driving force on the decision-making process.         

Q: How has your company performed in the past 12 months?

A: We had a record year ($136 million in 2021). It’s been difficult in regards to in-the-weeds stuff and what steel pricing did, rising over 100% from October 2020 to 2021.

We’ve made a number of hires through our growth period, and navigated getting through the toughest year in 2021. It was challenging. Steel pricing rose significantly. We were under contract to build these projects. I had to go back to them, say we’d have to do a price adjustment. It made for some long days. …. We wanted to preserve relations with clients as we navigated those tough times. Before combining with Rabco, it was more towards $80 million. We grew really fast. With that acquisition, we doubled the number of employees with the two companies (to 100).  

Q: How would you define what “The Edge You Need” means?

A: We’ve kind of tagged it with being bold, passionate, honest. We’ve implemented those within our marketing program and the message we’re delivering. We’re real with our clients and each other. We have to be accountable with our actions. Our model of success is not fake. It’s when we make mistakes and hold ourselves accountable for them. That’s what separates us from our competitors.   

Q: What is your outlook for the storage industry in the next six months or so?

A: It’s an amazing industry. We’re seeing a number of opportunities on the national level that entail developers looking to build self-storage. It’s at the highest level we’ve ever seen it. 

Q: Are you seeing more demand for boat and RV storage?

A: Yes, 100%, without question. It’s a market that’s very close to me. It got me involved in the storage industry. The demand is at record levels. I follow the RV and boat industry. Manufacturers can’t keep up with that.  

Q: Have you been hit by labor shortages?

A: We do subcontract our labor. And the cost of labor has risen significantly, 30% in the last 12 to 18 months. They’re just that much in demand. There’s not as many workers as there was prior. 

Q: How about supply-chain issues?

A: Specifically through 2021; we’re seeing it ease up a little bit. There’s worry about the war; slab steel is purchased through Russia.  

Bruce Goldberg

Bruce Goldberg is a freelance writer and editor based in Denver. He worked in newspapers and magazines as both a business writer/editor and sportswriter/editor for 35 years.

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