Q&A: Storage builder MakoRabco welcomes new CEO

Al Harris
Published October 24, 2023

There is a new boss at one of the country’s top self-storage construction companies.

Jim Reinhart is the new CEO at MakoRabco, a portfolio company of private equity firm New State Capital Partners. John Cross, who has served as CEO since 2021, is retiring and will continue to serve as an advisor during the transition.

Industry leader

MakoRabco is a leading storage builder with a nationwide presence, having completed over 5,000 facilities including single-story, multi-story, climate controlled, enclosed boat & RV, canopy, and multi-level conversion projects across the country. The construction firm brings over 50-plus combined years of experience in the self-storage industry after California-based Mako Steel (formed in 1993) and Florida-based Rabco Enterprises (formed in 1988) merged in 2021, with New State as majority partner.

Reinhart joins the company with an extensive experience in commercial construction, but not self-storage specifically. Reinhart has held a slew of executive leadership roles, notably as the COO of QTS Realty Trust, a premier REIT in the data center sector. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Mr. Reinhart holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Masters in microelectronics from University of Maryland.

From nuclear subs to laser printers

Reinhart says he got his start in construction refueling nuclear submarines as a member of the U.S. Navy Submarine Force.

“The job they put me in was refueling nuclear reactors, which involves removing most of the key components and putting them all back together,” Reinhart said, “You learn how to do some heavy construction, and how to do it smartly and safely.”

That experience laid the foundation for Reinhart’s 20-plus year career in commercial construction. One of his first ventures was with Hewlett-Packard building large warehouses and distribution facilities for printers.

“At the time printers were mostly something businesses used, but they had developed the first personal laser and inkjet printers, so we needed to rapidly build several large-scale facilities across the world to manufacture and distribute the printers and their associated supplies,” Reinhart said.

One of those projects was located in Richmond, Virginia, where Reinhart is currently based. The Storage Beat caught up to find out about what Reinhart has in store for MakoRabco and what opportunities he sees for the company as he steps into the job.

Our conversation continues below.

How did you come into this role?

I had a stint with a company called QTS Realty Trust. They build data centers, not storing physical valuables, but storing one of the most critical assets for people and businesses – their data. We built 100,000-square-foot-plus facilities that stored thousands of computers. I think New State saw that as very relevant experience, as well as my involvement in other high-growth B2B businesses.

What are some of your goals as the new CEO?

As the industry leader, we will identify ways to take our platform to the next level. One key area will be customer experience. Working with our partners, we want to build the best network and ecosystem possible to deliver the best service and delight our customers.

What’s your view of the current state of the self-storage industry?

It has good tailwinds. People across the nation are looking for better solutions to store their valuable property.  There is good growth not just in consumers needing storage, but also for businesses that need it more and more as e-commerce grows.

What does your project pipeline look like now?

I feel that we have moved on from being two companies, one East Coast and one West Coast, to having a national platform where we can service demand across the entire country. We can serve the full range of customers from those who are doing their first project as well as national and regional players looking for partnerships to build multiple facilities.

We are still seeing growth across all spaces, not only driven by small business and population growth, but other macro changes like working from home driving the need for additional storage or people taking more leisure time and investing in a place to store their new RVs and boats.

Looking at government figures, there has been slight uptick in self-storage construction spending over the last year. What do you think is driving that?

The space has attracted a lot of capital recently. Investors have seen that self storage has weathered over the decades these financial ups and downs better than most industries. Even in a higher interest rate environment, investors are still able to get good cap rates and value for these assets. And in the face of inflation they can still get rents that give them a good return and have customers who are considered to be stickier than ever. As many other sectors in commercial real estate, like office space, are seeing challenges, self-storage continues to thrive.

Al Harris

Alexander Harris is a reporter covering the business of self-storage. He obtained his degree in journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University. He loves reading Elmore Leonard novels and listening to classic country music. You can call him Al.

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