Doorage, the Chicago valet storage company started only two years ago, has announced it has launched a nationwide pickup-and-delivery service via a “national warehouse system” that it recently established in key markets around the country.

Recently operating in only three Midwest cities, Doorage has been beta testing its nationwide pick-up-and-delivery system over the past four months and decided to launch it this summer.

“We found it logistically works and there’s a demand for it,” says Doorage founder Sean Sandona, a Chicago businessman. “None of this is through a third party. It’s all Doorage. It’s all managed and owned by us.”

A nationwide network

Sean Sandona, founder of Doorage

For competitive reasons, Sandona declined to say how many warehouses Doorage now owns across the country – and where exactly they’re located.

But he said the company has split the nation into five regional markets – the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Southwest and Northwest – and each has a minimum of one warehouse where customer belongings can be temporarily stored on demand.

Even if a customer is located outside of one of Doorage’s current “home” valet markets in Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, WI, Doorage can pick up their items and deliver them anywhere in the country, usually storing them first in one of its new regional warehouses, he said.

“A logistical nightmare”

Valet storage itself is a relatively new phenomenon within the storage industry, with firms picking up, storing and delivering items on short notice, usually within a 20- to 50-mile radius of a central facility, as opposed to the traditional model of people hauling their belongings themselves to and from self-storage facilities.

But Sandona said he was constantly being asked by Doorage customers whether the firm provided pickup and delivery services outside the immediate Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison metropolitan areas.

So he decided to analyze what it would take to offer such nationwide service. “It was a logistical nightmare,” Sandona said of the initial planning for a nationwide system.

Ultimately, the company found that strategically placed warehouses in key regions, rather than in specific metro markets, would work, he said.

“This is for people with a fair amount of things to move,” he said. “Economically, it doesn’t make much sense to ship only a few boxes.”

Moving and storage 2.0

Doorage provides customers with a set price for nationwide pickup, storage and delivery, based on how far away they need items moved and how long items must be stored. The company has leased trucks (festooned with Doorage signage) for the nationwide system, but it owns the strategically placed warehouse and all drivers are employed by Doorage, he said.

He noted that one beta customer wanted all his belongings moved from his home in Chicago to the southeast, where he was building a new house and needed to temporarily store items for seven months. The price: $18,000.

Another client, a software company, needed three 90-inch TVs delivered from Illinois to a storage facility in the New Jersey area, before having them delivered to their East Coast operations. The price: “several thousand dollars,” said Sandona.

Expanding the valet concept

Michael Cappelletti, founder and CEO of Cubiq, a Boston-area self-storage firm, said he’s intrigued with Doorage’s move into nationwide pickup-and-delivery service, saying his customers also approach him regularly about moving and storage services outside the core Boston area.

“There’s a demand for it,” he said of nationwide service. “He (Sandona) is diving into something I’ve thought about myself. He’s getting into a nice niche.”

Sandona stressed that Doorage plans to keep and expand its metro-focused valet storage services. Indeed, he said he plans this fall to announce expansion into four additional cities, which he declined to identify. He also said the firm hopes to expand into an additional 10 n metro market in 2020.

The nationwide service will supplement the valet-storage business, he said. If all does well, he estimated nationwide pickup and delivery could account for 40 percent of the firm’s revenues.

Jay Fitzgerald