Keys To Success

The Storage Business Owners Alliance (SBOA) is committed to serving as an educational resource for self-storage owners and operators, to allow them to become more knowledgeable in the industry. One of the ways the SBOA aims to do this is by providing weekly Keys to Success with self-storage industry leaders. You can check this page weekly to see a new Key to Success or by subscribing to the SBOA newsletter here.

Joshua Huff, Marketing Director at Affordable Storage Guys

“One of my keys to success is knowing my limitations, then filling those gaps with the right people, tools, or practices. Sometimes those limitations are related to time or availability. Others are related to skillsets. Wherever they spring from, it’s essential to discover what they are so I know where I can grow and don’t get blind to an area of weakness. Growth can only take place once I find those limits and add things to compensate. Do I need more time? Maybe I can delegate tasks to another employee or take something non-essential off my plate. Am I lacking a skill? Perhaps some education or training would help. There are some fantastic tools out there, but I’ll miss many of them if I don’t recognize that I need them.

Jeremy Rollwitz, Regional Manager at The Jenkins Organization

“For me, it’s being authentic, transparent, and resilient. To become an emotionally intelligent leader with an extreme since of urgency. Always Invest in yourself and display not only patience but persistence when it comes to achieving your goals. A tree does not grow and bear fruit overnight. Everything needs time to grow. Get out of your comfort zone and have faith in yourself to finish what you have started and see it through.”

Ginny Sutton, Executive Director of the Texas Self Storage Association 

“The definition of success is obviously different for different people. For some people, being successful focuses on monetary success and having a big house or two, along with new, fancy cars and the ability to send their kids to private school. For me personally, being successful revolves around fulfillment in my both my job and my personal life. I love having the ability to help people succeed in the storage business through the things I do every day—planning events, providing information and resources, finding new ways to tackle problems.  Success in that endeavor requires a lot of dedication. That is key to me—never giving up till a good solution is reached.

Running a non-profit association doesn’t mean you’ll make as much money as the people you work for. But experiencing their appreciation and watching them succeed and having a small part in that is very fulfilling.

On the personal side of things, I’m a big believer that life is far too short to hold grudges or to hate anyone. Every person you encounter in life has something that can contribute in a positive way to your life, even if it is just to remind you that your life is good by comparison.  I try not to hold on to negative feelings towards anyone.  I can honestly say I don’t think anyone has ever intentionally wronged me. Even if they did, I let it go. Why hold on to resentment or bitterness when there is so much more to experience?”

Jessica Johnson, Vice President of the SBOA

“I believe the Key to Success in anyone’s career is fully immersing yourself in your role, loving what you do, maintaining a positive outlook, and getting to know as many people in your respective industry as possible.

Immersing yourself – research, read, and attend educational events. Keep your skills sharp.

Loving what you do … think about it this way – you spend a lot of time each week working, so you have to LOVE what you do! If you don’t love what you do then you are not in the right role.

Maintaining a positive outlook – Take the lemons life may hand you and always make lemonade. No one wants to be around doom and gloom or a negative Nancy. Try your best to remain positive in all situations! There are seasons to life and every season brings new blessings and new challenges.

Get to know people – Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and network. I have gained so many wonderful contacts throughout the years by attending networking events, conferences, seminars, etc. I continue to grow my network each week with social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Clubhouse. Some of these contacts have become valuable resources and mentors in my career. Try your best to never burn bridges and always be friendly to your competitors because you just never know what can evolve throughout the years.”

Alison DeJaeger, President of List Self Storage

“No matter the task, do what you say you’re going to do and take pride in it; the right people will notice. I was lucky enough to start my career working for intelligent and experienced people who were willing to invest in my knowledge of the industry. Take advantage of those relationships and ask them questions like you’re a toddler discovering everything for the first time. When the time comes, do the same for others.”

Stephanie Winfree, COO at Interstate Self Storage/Innovation Self Storage

“The Key to Success means different things to different people, but I think one of the top “keys” is listening. Everyone wants to be heard, but you also need to listen to what is being said. It can be as simple as engaging with a customer for feedback or sitting at a conference learning new things. But listening can help grow your business.

In today’s world, we spend so much time trying to get ahead that we can forget to pay attention to what’s around us. Listening has become a lost art. While I’m not perfect at it, and need to remind myself often, I find when I do stop and listen – great things can happen.”

Grace Totty, Vice President of Marketing at Absolute Storage Management

“My “key to success” has been to have mentors. I have had many mentors. Mentors who are always stages above my own, some of whom work in the industry, out of the industry, work in my company, and outside the company. All of which have been important for different stages in my career and development. Lean into mentors, be honest, vulnerable, candid, and open with your mentors with the intention to learn and grow. If you are looking for a mentor, start by asking someone to lunch, no one will turn down a meal!”

Ian Burnstein, President and Co-Founder of the SBOA

“I always tell my kids to follow three simple rules:

  1. Be nice
  2. Work hard
  3. Do what you say you are going to do”

Jim Mooney, Vice President of Operations at Freedom Storage Management

There are a lot of reasons for success. For me, my go to one is always continue to learn. There are opportunities all around us to learn about our industry. Surround yourself with smart people and be humble. Listen to what they are saying. As my mom would say there might be a better way to accomplish that. I have taken that mindset to heart and why I always attend AND participate in conferences both State and National. You never know where the next great idea will come from.”

Daniel Higuera, Chief Operating Officer at Storage Star

“My most important keys to success would have to be tenacity, diligence, and my ability to adapt to new ideas. The world is constantly changing, and you must be open to new concepts, or you will stay stagnant. Another very important key to the success of Storage Star is getting staff to have the “buy in”. Meaning, if they believe in what we are doing they will work even harder to achieve the goals set before them. This is also obtained by knowing your staff’s strengths and promoting from within the company. My team believes in me the way I believe in them, and this is something that is very difficult/impossible to replicate.”

Raheem Amer, Senior Vice President of Operations at Devon Self Storage

“FOCUS: Just like a magnifying glass on a newspaper. To make a success of our lives we must learn to concentrate all our efforts on the undertaking in hand until it is finished.  GRIT: Have the drive, stamina, and determination to push through any challenge or obstacle thrown your way.  CONSISTENCY: It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives…it’s what we do consistently that defines us.  At the end of the day…success is truly accomplished when you achieve it WITH PEOPLE. So, build strong roots and do not alienate your people while you are striving for success….”

Charles Gardiner, President at KO Storage

“As it relates to real estate…Location, Location, Location.  The 3 keys I have found to be a successful operator in any business is “Staffing, Staffing, Staffing.” It’s always the problem. It’s always the solution. I will never reach the success that I desire without the resources and collaboration of a great team!! I have been blessed with great teams comprised of great people.”

Ashley Compton, National Director of Self Storage Group at Colliers

Early in my career I was told that if I keep my client’s interests first, everything else will fall into place. I try to carefully listen to my clients’ goals and craft a marketing strategy that best accomplishes their needs. I feel I have built a strong brokerage practice over the last 17 years with a reputation of being a straight-shooter, working tenaciously for my clients, and consistently delivering better than expected results.” 

Tony Goff, Director of Operations at True Storage 

“I’d have to say my keys to success would have to be, being a gregarious person. I thrive off of people. And Knowing the difference between being a “manager” vs. a “developer” of teams. People make any business, you MUST take care of your Team, by developing them into superstars. That will always shine down to your customers.”

Rick Beal, Co-Founder at Atomic Self Storage

“Any success I’ve had in my life I can attribute to always questioning the way things are done. Never assume the current way is the right way… always ask why. Always ask how it can be better and never stop asking that.”

Jane Sauls, Broker at Sauls Storage Group

“Believe it first and Believe BIG! Putting legs on my prayers and getting after it every day. Consistently doing the little things right and always doing what’s right. And never taking myself too seriously.”

Mitchell Feldman, President at The Feldman Companies

“People think I’m lucky. The reality is, the harder I work, the luckier I get! The key to success is putting forth massive effort on a consistent basis. There is no other way.”

Phil O’Hara, Director of Operations at Delta Self Storage

“For me the keys to success are easy and challenging at the same time. Most importantly is to set goals and hold yourself accountable to them. Secondly, aim above your current skill set to challenge yourself to grow. The last key to success is to get out of your comfort zone and stop being complacent!”

Are you in the self-storage industry and want to share your keys to success? Email us at and put “Keys to Success Submission” in the subject line of the email.

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