“You either love self-storage or you don’t,” states Kari Kaltenborn, president of locally owned and operated Kaltenborn Enterprises & Rancho Storage Center. “It just clicked for me, and I’m still enjoying it!” Kaltenborn took an interest in the self-storage industry back in 1990, when her father bought his first facility. Her experience in the family business gave her a deeper understanding of the elements that drive self-storage companies to success and a passion for the industry that endures today. From 2005 to 2018, she worked for Magellan Storage, advancing in her role from manager to the director of operations. Now she operates four facilities in and around the Seattle metro area as the president of her own company.
A Modern Business Model
Growing up in the self-storage industry, Kaltenborn gained valuable insight on how to successfully manage and operate storage facilities—insights that molded the operating philosophy that continues to shape her business. “We really try and focus on three main things: company culture, customer service, and community involvement,” she says. “Each component feeds into the next.”
Kaltenborn’s operating philosophy emphasizes the link between a positive company culture and the quality of service employees provide to customers. “Managers and employees are running the facilities and overseeing day-to-day operations, so we really try to think of ways to make them happy, feel valued, and feel like they are a part of the organization,” she explained. “If your employees are happy in the company, then they will provide better customer service to the tenants. We really try and go above and beyond with our customer service. We know these tenants might be in transition or experiencing change and undergoing stress. Some of them have probably never used storage before, so we try and ease their stress, answer their questions, and make the entire storage process feel natural. And I think it’s working because we get a lot of repeat customers.”
Kaltenborn goes on to explain how the last component of her philosophy, community involvement, serves as a form of marketing and has been a primary focal point for employees and customers in recent years. “Marketing has changed. Over the last several years, people are paying a lot more attention to what companies represent and who they support to see whether their beliefs and ideals align. Being involved in the community, whether it’s the chamber of commerce or Charity Storage, really helps communicate how a company wants to be viewed by the community. People are paying more attention to that than the mass marketing techniques we used 10 years ago.”
This article originally appeared in the Mini Storage Messenger Magazine
About Rancho Storage Center
Rancho Storage Center, founded in 1990 and rebranded in 2018, is a family-owned and operated self storage business with multiple locations in Washington. They pride themselves in building a positive work culture, delivering exceptional customer service to tenants and supporting meaningful charitable causes in their local community.