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Stor-Age: Steven Horton, Gavin Lucas, Stephen Lucas

Providing people with access to their stuff in a clean and secure space is good business.

Monique Verduyn

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Gavin Lucas was 24 and completing his accounting articles when he and his dad Les Lucas decided to start a self-storage business in Cape Town. “In between working for KPMG and studying for my board exams, I would wake up at 5:30am, have planning meetings with my dad at 6:15am, and then head off to work.

I would duck out of the office during the day to have meetings with council officials, lawyers, bankers and our professional team. At night, I would start working on the business again. When I let a few of my colleagues know that we had been planning a 7 500m2 property development and that we had already made the bank’s required pre-sales and obtained planning consent, they didn’t believe me.”

Learn to differentiate

Stor-Age provides short-term space for domestic and commercial customers on a flexible lease basis. Lucas says the business sets itself apart from other self-storage companies through the quality of its convenient locations, its purpose-built storage centres, and the best service offering in the industry.

“Our staff are trained to sell space and to give customers a positive experience. Storing goods is usually something people do because of a life changing event like death, divorce, moving or renovating, or because their business has a need. We ensure that they have a light, bright, clean and secure space,“ Lucas says.

Dedication is key

Lucas’s commitment has been rewarded. Stor-Age is growing fast in South Africa and the world. After starting the business with a loan of R1 million in 2006, the company has a property portfolio of more than R750 million, which is expected to grow to R1 billion within the next year. Having started with four stores, Lucas aims to have 20 in operation by the end of 2013.

Know what matters

He says he has learnt a few key things. “Being able to communicate clearly is critically important. You must be able to set out clearly what the business is aiming to achieve and communicate it to the entire organisation at all levels. This becomes a challenge as the business grows.”

He says success is not all about money. “To be truly successful, you need to be able to motivate staff to become passionate about what the business is doing. The market will reward this handsomely. I also believe in employing people who are smarter and have more experience than me in specific areas. This can unlock tremendous value. In this country there are large numbers of people who have retired early. Many of them would love to sink their teeth into SMEs. They’ve certainly proved to be a great addition to our team.”

Vital stats

Company: Stor-Age

Players: Steven Horton, Gavin Lucas, Stephen Lucas

Est: 2006

Contact: 0861 181 818,
www.stor-age.co.za

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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