PODS Founder Pete Warhurst believes the storage industry is ripe for a moving and storage concept he recently introduced in Tampa, FL.
The concept isn’t only portable storage nor is it just a moving truck. It’s both.
“We are fetchable storage. We are giving the customer another alternative,” Warhurst said.
How it works
Red Rover offers portable storage with a free truck. You drive the truck to your home or apartment and pack your things. Then you drive the truck to Red Rover and they store your goods until you need them. The concept uses online booking where customers pick the size container or containers they need.
“The truck is free. You pack once. You unpack once. Don’t have to move goods multiple times,” Warhurst said.
The concept, he said, fits nicely between renting a moving truck such as a U-Haul and full-service moving. In fact, years after he sold PODS, he tried to convince the new owners to embrace the concept, but when they didn’t he came out of retirement to launch Red Rover.
Depending on the number of months a person rents out storage space, pricing is considered competitive with either U-Haul or traditional storage concepts, he said. Rates start at $159 a month for an 8-foot container and $199 a month for a 16-foot container. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is currently offering the first month of storage for free.
“There will always be U-Haul customers. Their customer is the apartment dweller who wants to get out of apartment A and move into apartment B on a Saturday night,” he said. “You could use Red Rover for that but it would be more expensive, although we’ve had customers do that” Warhurst said.
“If you need storage between homes because you are building a home and it won’t be ready for two to three months; that is an ideal customer [for Red Rover],” he said.
A challenging new model
Steve Mellon, JLL’s Self Storage lead, said the concept has merit, and should ultimately benefit consumers.
“Traditional storage has always been challenged by new models, which pushes for more amenities to the consumer,” he said.
“The advent of web presence, automation, touchless interaction, paperless, kiosk, 24-hour access are just a few aspects that have changed our industry over the last 10 years. Self-packing and movable units is another amenity that has been presented over the years to the consumer. This is a feature that has merit, and one that I expect to be a part of the self-storage culture going forward. We have already seen the traditional players adapt to be competitive, which always benefits the consumer.”
One advantage traditional storage retains is the ability for customers to access their own storage unit at any time. With Red Rover, and other firms in the full service storage space, retrieval requires planning and scheduling.
Red Rover launched in February with nine trucks and three different container sizes that can be configured on the trucks five different ways depending on a customer’s storage capacity needs. It operates two fully automated truck depots that are 15 miles apart. It’s third site contains the storage warehouse. All locations are convenient to major highways and road arterials.
Warhurst said he projects he’ll become profitable at the market level in 18 to 24 months and has an ambitious plan to expand nationwide with 40 markets in major metros.
The company’s next step is to raise capital to launch six more locations as joint ventures.
Warhurst, who sold PODS in 2007 for $430 million, has mostly self-financed Red Rover. He is the largest shareholder and holds the only voting share although his management team is vested as are some friends and family.
“I wouldn’t have come out of retirement,” he said, “if I didn’t think this was a home run.”