Moove In is dropping brokerage to focus on expanding its storage portfolio


John H. Gilliland has watched America’s self-storage sector achieve admirable growth since he established the Investment Real Estate Group of Companies (IREGC) in 1997, which he grew to 100 employees and provided brokerage, feasibility, construction, development, insurance and property management.

In 1998, he purchased his first self-storage facility in Hanover, PA, near the Maryland border.

Now the CEO and his company have taken a bigger leap — they’ve discontinued their brokerage services and focused on expanding their Moove In Self Storage portfolio. Gilliland believed all along that the growth of self-storage would continue.

“The future of the self-storage industry nationally x I still think we’re really in the early stages of self-storage,” he said.

“I compare it to the multifamily industry that has been around for over 100 years. Self-storage started in the 1970s and became an asset class in its own right in the late 1990s,” Gilliland said.

Gilliland said this means there is a long road to growth for the industry.

$1 billion in sales, 60+ properties

Since 1998, the company has brokered more than $1 billion in sales for clients through offices in Connecticut, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Gilliland, who is writing a book about his self-storage career, recently relocated its headquarters to York, PA. The company still operates its development department for the construction of investment properties.

Moove In operates more than 60 self-storage properties in Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

As the company evolved into its new model, Gilliland appointed Christopher Riley as President and COO. He also hired Tina Damron, District Manager; Nancy Delach, Vice President of Human Resources; James Fleming, construction project manager; and Jack Fritsche, Chief Financial Officer. He also promoted Erik Peckmann to head IREGC’s new Financial Planning and Analysis department.

We spoke to Gilliland, 58, about the changes at the company.

Why are you so optimistic about the self-storage industry?

xHannover, PA is where I listed my first self-storage facility near Gettysburg. When I was listing this property for sale I looked up the self storage numbers and had my Holy Smoke moment. Those were the best commercial real estate numbers I had ever seen.x

xI was running a commercial real estate company at the time and wanted to get out of the American corporations and start my own business. That was when I decided to get into the self-storage business. There are two ways to do this: start a company or build storage facilities. So I built one near Penn State University; it had 54 units.x

During this period of change, did you have to lay off employees?

xWe still have about 100 employees. Only one position was deleted. He left and started his own company. It worked well; We get the relationship and it’s fine. Now he can find me companies where we manage, develop and build self-storage facilities.x

They own 46 companies. How do you keep track?

xWe have a whole management team running different companies. I appointed a president last fall to help oversee everything. We are very disciplined. We launched EOS (Entrepreneurs Operating System) in 2016 and it really helped us run all the Companies.x

What’s next on your list?

xWe will build approximately $45 million worth of self-storage this year. We buy between $150 and $200 million in Self-Storage.x

Do you have an amusing anecdote from your years in camp?

xOne of the wildest we had was in a warehouse near Lancaster, PA. A tenant complained of a rancid smell; They thought it was from the unit next door. They immediately called the police, who brought in the cadaver dogs. They smelled something, maybe rotting meat. We had police and SWAT teams there.x

‘We finally reached the tenants and got permission to pick the lock. They had a freezer plugged in which later shut itself off with deer meat in it. You can imagine what that smelled like in a week or two.”

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