Matthew Powers, president and executive director of the New York Self Storage Association, believes his group’s upcoming conference comes at an exciting time for the state’s self-storage industry.

“There is a lot of development and a lot of merger-and-acquisition activity,” Powers said. “With this event, we are looking to harness that energy and highlight it for our membership and others that are just getting involved in the industry.”

The annual New York Self Storage Association conference and membership meeting will be Oct. 15 and 16 at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY.

Powers spoke with The SpareFoot Storage Beat about the conference and his views on industry trends. Panels at the event will address real estate, development, finance, operations and legal issues. Conference information is available on the association’s website.

How would you describe the current state of the self-storage market in New York state?

I’d say all is good news in New York state. From my perspective, the self-storage industry across the country has turned a corner from the 2008 downturn and has made it through better than a lot of industries. We are in a very good position, particularly in New York.

The success of the self-storage industry is attracting a fair share of newcomers to the industry. How does an event like the New York Self Storage Association conference benefit them?

One of the primary benefits is the educational component of it. The self-storage industry is a discrete industry. You can be a real estate expert in commercial properties and still not have the right knowledge base to understand self-storage. The association strives to educate our members on industry best practices, new trends and new developments that will help them be successful operators.

Extra Space Storage
Extra Space Storage and its competitors are angling for more growth in New York City.

The conference features a panel on development. How active is new self-storage development in the state? 

Many members have been traditionally conservative and happy with having just a couple of facilities. Now, many are looking to build or expand through development or mergers and acquisitions. One aspect of the show is how to do that the right way.

Development is not as strong of a force as M&A. It is a secondary approach, but it is taking place. I have a lot of upstate members that are developing from within. There are current operators as well as new players that are penetrating the market with development, but current dynamics in the New York market are creating immediate opportunities for acquisition, which has attracted the interest of larger operators and national organizations that are looking to further grow their brands.

How much room for new development is in the state?

There is room. I would reference a national study from last year that showed some of the largest underserved marketplace in the country. A couple of the top markets were in New York, including New York City and some of the upstate cities like Buffalo and Rochester.

There is a lot of focus on legal issues on the agenda for the conference. Why is that?

This event is going to have two distinct opportunities for engaging in legal conversations. I think it is of upmost concern that operators know how to operate and deliver the self-storage product in the most legally pertinent way. If our industry doesn’t know the rules and regulations, that is going to hurt all of us. The panels will look at lien laws and other primary issues, such as ADA compliance and training managers on legal issues they need to be aware of at the front desk.

What is shaping up to be on your legislative agenda for next year?

It went a little bit under the radar, but we had to fight a very onerous anti-industry piece of legislation this year that would have had a major detrimental impact on our members from an administrative and financial perspective. We were able to fight and kill that bill, which would have required duplicate lien notices and extended time frames to hold lien sales. But it could come back next year.

We are evaluating ways to modernize the lien law and make it more efficient. The law has not been amended since its inception, and with all of the technological advances taking place, we are looking to amend it in a way that benefits both the operator and the consumer.

Alexander Harris