People starting a new job often bring a few personal items, perhaps a cell phone, a potted plant and a file of business contacts.

When Travis Morrow assumes his new role as president of the Self Storage Division at San Diego-based Strat Property Management Inc. on August 1st, he will be bringing something a bit bigger – the management of his family’s 11-property National Self Storage portfolio.

Morrow is a 14-year veteran of the self-storage industry where he has worked at Tucson-based National Self Storage. He also has played an active role in the National Self Storage Association and the Arizona Self Storage Association. Morrow will pool National’s assets with Strat’s properties to create a combined management portfolio of 65 properties in Arizona, California, Texas, Utah and New Mexico.

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A deal in the making

Morrow first met Strat Property Management CEO Don Clauson a few years ago when the two served on National Board of Directors for the SSA and also the Board of Directors for the storelocal self-storage cooperative.

“We have very similar philosophies on operations and business,” Morrow said.

The two started talking about a way to work together in the future, which culminated in Morrow coming on board in the newly created position. The move also gives Clauson more time to devote to managing its portfolio of apartment assets.

Stronger together

That move highlights a new mindset among smaller operators and a greater willingness to share resources in an industry that is seeing more competitive pressure from REITs and other larger owners.

One of the biggest challenges small operators face is a higher cost of acquisition for a self-storage customer. It costs three or four times as much for a small operator to get a new renter into their facility as it does a large operator, notes Morrow.

“All small operators have realized that the things that the bigger operators are able to do are going to be out of their reach without figuring out a way to team up with other operators in the industry,” he says.

The larger size of Strat allows the company to have one full-time employee that is entirely focused on marketing and social media, which is something that National could not have afforded on its own.

On the job

In his new role at Strat, Morrow will be focusing on all aspects of the storage business, including managing the operations team, looking for ways to improve efficiencies and also working on any development or acquisition opportunities that arise. His primary task will be getting to know the dynamics of the individual stores in the Strat portfolio.

“One of the things I am excited about in joining Don is having the help of his team members,” he said. “Now I get to work with a great team that can help us to do more than I was able to do on my own.”

Beth Matson-Teig