Grow Your Storage LLC
GYS LLC is a major player in the self-storage markets of Colorado and Texas.
By Alan Dorich
More than 20 years ago, self-storage buildings were often built on the edges of towns and on sites that could be cheaply purchased. But times have changed since those “good old days,” Lee Fredrick says.
“That whole process has evolved now to where we are targeting infill development in hard-to-entitle sites,” he says. “The most important component of the business is locating your property in the right place.”
Fredrick is a partner in Grow Your Storage LLC (GYS LLC), a self-storage specialist firm that offers development and entitlement services, construction design and management, and property management. He founded the company in 1995.
“We started off as a very mom-and-pop operation,” Fredrick recalls, noting that GYS LLC has become a more institutional operation that has built nine facilities to date. “We have emerged as a very strong player in Colorado and the Houston-San Antonio corridor of Texas.”
GYS LLC achieved that status through its vertically integrated business model, Partner Brandon Grebe says. “We have Grow Your Storage Development, Grow Your Storage General Contracting and Grow Your Storage Property Management,” he says.
“GYS General Contracting was created to not only build our internal GYS Development projects, but also setup to be a best-in-class general contractor and build third-party self storage facilities for our clients,” he says. “ With the focus of this company being solely on the self storage industry, this is a very streamlined and intentional general contracting company that knows the in and outs of building a great self storage facility.
“There’s synergies that come along with that,” he continues, noting that one branch can advise the other. “Stacking those services is the strongest benefit of our company.”
Breaking the Barrier
GYS LLC’s current projects include its Timberline Self Storage location in Fort Collins, Colo. “It is an infill development in a difficult-to-access location,” Fredrick says, noting that the project required a 14-month entitlement period, including approval for planning and zoning.
“It is a complex development project with Fort Collins having a tight barrier to entry in general,” Grebe admits, adding that all three of the company’s entities are involved on the $6 million project.
When finished, the location will feature 11 buildings with 76,000 rentable square feet. “Some of the buildings will open in July to catch the busy summer rental season,” Grebe adds, noting that the project will be finished in August.
An important participant on the Timberline project is All Pro Capital LLC, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. “It’s a local capital group whose partners comprise people living here in the front range,” Fredrick says.
“All Pro also invests with us in the Texas market,” he adds, noting that this helps keep local and regional money invested in these projects.
As it builds the Timberline project, GYS LLC keeps its finger on the pulse of all the factors that play into a successful development. For example, “We’re staying in touch with what investors are wanting or expecting in return,” Fredrick says.
The company also keeps current with building trends. “We are participants in national and state self-storage associations,” he says. “We know what’s going on in the broad industry.”
GYS LLC also has friendships with associates at companies with scopes ranging from one to 3,000 storage facilities. “Having that personal knowledge sets us apart,” Fredrick says.
Fredrick is proud of his team at GYS LLC. “Each of us is very much a self starter,” he says. “We combine our resources so we’re able to create a much larger pipeline of projects.”
Grebe agrees. “We’re all very self-driven and everyone is out to succeed, every day,” he says, noting that employees regularly bounce ideas off each other. “It’s very collaborative.”
GYS LLC’s team will help it continue to survive its market, as it becomes increasingly complex. “Self storage is going to continue to be a more and more challenging asset to develop,” Fredrick says.
One reason for this is a shortage of easy-to-find sites. “There are no more easy locations,” he says. “As such, it’s going to be pricier to get the dirt.”
Rising construction costs also will affect the company. “It costs so much to get a project going,” Fredrick says, noting that it cost less than $2 million to build a self-storage facility in 2000.
Not only have costs gone up, but more sophisticated operations are required “because the risk has gone up,” he says. “That’s where Grow Your Storage Development comes in.”
The development division can systematically analyze locations and determine if they are financially feasible, Fredrick says. Once it does that, “We can get it entitled and get it built,” he says.
Grebe adds that the company also is assembling a portfolio of storage facilities. “We are looking for good demographics, and we don’t shy away from those tough entitlement projects,” he says. “That’s our strategy that we’re looking to [use] in the coming months and coming years.”