Brand Building With StorQuest: Turning Self-Storage Into a Lifestyle

Posted by Brad Hadfield on Jun 18, 2024 10:00:00 AM

Self-storage is widely considered a need-based product. While many people might associate themselves with a brand – “I’m an iPhone guy” or “I’m a Prada gal” – few outside the industry would describe themselves as a “self-storage person.” That might be changing, and StorQuest Self Storage is leading the charge. 


Owned by The William Warren Group (WWG), a privately held real estate company that was founded in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1994 by William “Bill” Warren Hobin, StorQuest is 250-plus locations strong, with a team of 600-plus members spread across the country who aim to create an awesome experience for guests and partners. 


Today, StorQuest appeals to adventure seekers and lovers of the outdoors with gear of all types, with a website that tells visitors it is “Time to make plans, get organized, and make it happen.” So how did a self-storage brand evolve into a lifestyle brand? 


“I wanted to create something different in the self-storage industry,” explains Hobin, who describes himself as an avid outdoorsman with a love for fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, surfing, and golfing. “I wanted to be unique, build a better product, and make a real connection with people and help them make their lives better.” 


Naturally then, Hobin set up shop in Santa Monica, Calif., just a few steps from the beach and what he calls the “Big Blue Playground”—the Pacific Ocean. 


“StorQuest Self Storage is more than just a storage company; it’s a lifestyle brand that strives to build a positive relationship with its guests to help them live a bigger life,” Hobin continues. “We encourage people to think differently about the use of self-storage.” 


He says that storage shouldn’t be thought of as just something to use in a time of personal crisis, like death, divorce, eviction, or the loss of a job. “It’s okay to live in an apartment in downtown Los Angeles, or any other urban center, yet still go out and buy a kayak and keep it in a storage unit, pulling it out on weekends and hitting the ocean. The simple use of a storage unit allows someone the ability to pursue their passion, enjoy life, and live big in the now.” 


Screenshot 2024-06-18 at 8.13.33 AM


Creating Company Culture 


StorQuest prides itself on a company culture that rivals that of even the big tech companies. But Hobin didn’t want it to feel forced; rather, he says a healthy culture has to be one that is organic and authentic, and that starts with happy people. “Personal growth is a very important component towards achieving personal happiness, and that leads to confidence in expanding your abilities and innovating. I am a competitive person, so we must continue to innovate in order to win. It’s a circular, never-ending exercise.” 


Hobin knows that work can be hard and stressful, so he says it’s important to make time for play too, encouraging his employees to take advantage of the surroundings. “It’s okay [for employees] to take meetings on a walk along the bluffs of Santa Monica … Go for a run at lunch, jump in the ocean, take out a surfboard, or bike along the beach path. I don’t care if you take longer than a standard one hour. As long as you are getting exercise and enjoying our immediate surroundings, go do it and live big yourself.” 


Building A Lifestyle Brand 


Maintaining a lifestyle brand means always thinking outside of the box and having a guest-centric service approach. Delivering a genuine and consistent brand experience is imperative to brand integrity, says Brooke Wiegand, vice president of marketing at WWG. “To match the culture of our company, we are always looking for ways to connect self-storage to an outdoor lifestyle and individuals needing to store gear or their personal belongings,” she says. 


She also cites studies from that show that cluttered environments can make people less satisfied with their lives, pointing to neuroscience research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) that found clearing clutter from a home or work environment resulted in a better ability to focus as well as increased activity and productivity. 


“That brand strategy carries over into why we aspire to be the most creative, entrepreneurial, profitable self-storage company and operator in the industry for our owners, investors, and developers,” says Gary Sugarman, COO. The company is accomplishing this by expanding its team, entering new markets, and investing a significant amount of capital into its operating platform. In addition to partnering with institutional capital partners, the company sees a lot of continued potential for growth in the third-party management platform. “It’s important that, as much as owners like our brand, we have to like the asset, the market, and the people to ensure that we’re maintaining brand consistency and brand integrity for our guests,” says Sugarman. 


Over the years, StorQuest’s marketing team has supported environmental causes, partnered with “Questors” (famous guests who use StorQuest and promote the brand), and sponsored outdoor events and activities that align with the StorQuest guest in the communities they serve.  


A Quest For Sustainability 


“The world is an awesome place; let’s keep it that way,” are words that StorQuest lives by. To honor that sentiment, StorQuest, through WWG, recognizes environmental, social, and governance (ESG) as a vital aspect of responsible operation. The company is committed to bettering its sustainability efforts through measurement and analysis in line with the latest ESG standards, frameworks, and industry best practices. 


StorQuest creates energy efficiencies in its daily operations, including maintaining carbon neutrality for its managed portfolio through such efforts as high-efficiency lighting, solar installations, and carbon offsetting. 


The company is also committed to giving back; it has partnered with a range of nonprofits and donates $1 for every new rental at each StorQuest location to one of them. 


Through its StorQuest for a Cause program, WWG has donated to community partners like One Tree Planted, Friends of the LA River, and Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation. (Learn more about sustainability at WWG or to read their inaugural Impact Report). 


As a company, William Warren Group and StorQuest Self Storage are focused on innovating and building for the long term, says Stevie Roberts, ESG manager at William Warren Group/StorQuest. “It’s one thing to talk about living an adventurous life; it’s another to support causes that help make that possible by protecting our planet. Here at WWG and StorQuest, they go hand in hand as the foundation for our growth and success,” says Roberts. 


Ambassadors Of The Brand 


When setting out to find guests who “live big” to be affiliated with the StorQuest brand, Hobin knew they wanted people who not only lived an adventurous life but also actively used self-storage. He found these “Questors” in 12-time World Champion Skateboarder Tony Hawk and 11-time World Champion Surfer Kelly Slater. 


Storquest-TonyHawk-2Screenshot 2024-06-18 at 8.12.21 AM


SQ_KellyImage_4Screenshot 2024-06-18 at 8.12.38 AM


A Meaningful Mural 


Along with supporting environmental initiatives, StorQuest wanted to get a message out to everyone on the importance of being a global citizen and a caretaker for the planet. What better way to do this than with a larger-than-life mural? 


StorQuest MuralTo accomplish this, the company commissioned muralist Ruben Rojas to design the mural on the side of its Oakland, Calif., facility, facing interstate 980 for maximum visibility. “StorQuest wanted to use art and a powerful message … a love letter from Earth to us,” says Rojas. His art depicts the planet with a note that reads “Love me before I’m gone.” 


“It’s our responsibility that we leave this planet better than when we found it,” states Rojas. 


In addition to making a statement through art, StorQuest asked community members to spread the word about healing the planet by using the hashtag #RootForTheFuture in social media posts.  


Hooked On Sponsorships 


The latest of StorQuest’s endeavors in sponsorships is the company’s recent sponsorship of the Bass Angler Magazine (BAM) Tournament Trail, an exclusive West Coast, professional-level tournament circuit. 


StorQuest Bass Tourney-2


For Hobin, who happens to host his own bass fishing tournament every year, it was a natural fit. “When I learned about the BAM tour, and how our sponsorship could help them, I thought the events aligned perfectly with the StorQuest brand ideology, which is to get out there, discover, and live a bigger life,” he says. 


Aside from that natural synergy, outdoors individuals have lots of gear, vehicles, and/or boats. “For them, their friends, family, and fans to consider using storage units as an extension of their garage, opens up a huge marketing opportunity for us,” Hobin explains. “This is a chance for us to educate the community on how storage utilization can help simplify and improve their lives. That’s our job.” 


Wiegand agrees. “This sponsorship is bringing together the worlds of outdoor sports and practical storage solutions. By getting involved with the BAM Tournament Trail, we’re showing our commitment to supporting the lifestyles and passions of our guests.” 


strip StorQuest

Building the StorQuest Brand: Click To See Questors In Action!


Always Innovating 


What’s next for StorQuest? “WWG is now entering its 30th year in business, and we have an incredibly talented team, great internal systems, and operate an amazing portfolio,” Hobin says, adding that he starts every day with enthusiasm and optimism about what opportunities might present themselves. “How can we improve? What can we do next to innovate and grow? I like to say we must think of ourselves as a 30-year-old start-up company.” 


- Brad Hadfield is a news writer and the web manager for MSM.


Further Reading:


Hobin cover

Hobin's Start In Storage

Learn how Bill Hobin got into the self-storage industry in our 2019 cover story! Find it in the MSM Archives.


Just type "Bill Hobin" in the search bar to find this issue and others in which he's been featured.