Erin King, Executive Director of the California Self Storage Association
As you already know, November has long been associated with Thanksgiving, a holiday when people enjoy traditional turkey dinners with loved ones and share their abundance others who are less fortunate. It’s also a time for acknowledging one’s blessings and giving thanks for them. Therefore, it is an appropriate month to discuss the sharing of information and resources within the self-storage industry.
Storage associations are some of the best sources for educational materials and networking opportunities. As a matter of fact, providing said information is a large part of the Self Storage Association’s (SSA) mission. To quote its website, “The association shall be the industry’s foremost communicator as well as informational and educational resource to its membership, the general public, and the news media.”
The SSA’s vision and mission statement goes on to say that the association “shall work to bring together multi-national, national, regional, and state self-storage associations to fulfill its mission and to serve as the principal clearinghouse of industry data and information, working toward common goals.”
In order to further fulfill its mission, the SSA, the national not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in Alexandria, Va., has been making strides to provide better representation for its members who live on the West Coast. This year the association has accomplished this by seeking the support of two well-respected and knowledgeable industry veterans: Scott Zucker and Erin King.
In February, Scott I. Zucker, esq., joined its legal and legislative department as deputy general counsel. Zucker, a corporate and litigation partner with the Atlanta-based law firm of Weissmann, Zucker, Euster, Morochnik P.C., now works with SSA General Counsel Carlos Kaslow, esq., According to an association press release, “The move also formally establishes legal support for the Association on both coasts.”
Sharing Time And Talents More recently, the Self Storage Association announced that Erin King, who has served as the executive director of the California Self Storage Association (CSSA) for more than a decade, would be representing the SSA. The agreement between the SSA and the CSSA enables King to devote a small portion of her time to the SSA’s initiatives.
“This allows me to use some of my and tenure to support other state associations without directors,” says King, who adds that she wants to spend time making a difference by supporting what’s most important to the members of the state associations she will be assisting—whether that be quality events or legislative efforts. For instance, King will be supporting legislative efforts in Hawaii as well as assisting with a trade show in Utah.
“It also provides West Coast representation,” King says. She asserts that this initiative will save the associations both time and money when it comes to travel as the SSA executives will not have to make as many cross-country trips. As an example, it will be more cost effective to send King from California to the state of Washington to represent the SSA during a hearing about reforming lien laws.
This collaborative agreement between the two associations will also allow for the sharing of industry practices with California’s neighboring states, which is a winning situation for fledgling associations of the western states as the California Self Storage Association is one of the largest storage associations in the United States and has some of the most current and progressive laws, forms, and procedures. “We will be able to parallel the best practices,” says King, emphasizing the importance of having local networking opportunities as well as state-tailored legislation, forms, and rental agreements.
Looking Forward As the new year approaches, King reminds self-storage owners and operators to “be in front of” change. “Change is constant,” she says. “Owners and operators need to navigate through changes.”
And quality education is one of the best compasses available to storage professionals. National, regional, and state self-storage associations offer a wide variety of up-to-date and relevant learning tools through conferences, trade shows, webinars, networking, presentations, lectures, seminars, videos, publications, blogs, forums, certification courses, training, and the like.
These educational tools enable owners and operators to stay informed about amendments to legislation, which is one of the SSA’s main focuses. “Amending state lien statutes that are antiquated is a priority,” King says. Moreover, as we have learned from several class action lawsuits that impacted the industry this year, it’s critical to have the proper forms, documents, and agreements—all with the correct legal terminology—in place at every self-storage facility to avoid litigation.
As for the Self Storage Association, King, who has chaired the SSA’s Affiliated Associations Council (AAC) for several years and has lead dialogue among state and international association executives, predicts that there will be continued efforts made to collaborate with the “starter” state associations such as Arizona, Florida, and Texas. And that’s a highly probable prediction considering that the SSA formed an affiliation with the New York Self Storage Association (NY-SSA) in March through its association affiliation program to share goals and resources in order to best represent the sector in the Empire State. The affiliation will allow for more collective representation as well as increased diligence in regards to legislative and policy issues. According to the corresponding SSA press release, “NY-SSA becomes the 40th independent state association to join SSA’s affiliation program, which involves legislative response, participation in each other’s communications vehicles, content and distribution, and a co-branded economic forum in New York City next year.”
Gratitude And Growth In addition to the growth the industry will experience as a whole from these initiatives, King is looking forward to advancing her self-storage career, which began 15 years ago when she joined Shurgard Storage Centers as a regional coordinator.
“This is the ideal next step in my career, enabling me to increase my support of this great sector and also continue the position and relationships in California that are so important to me,” she says, adding that she is excited for the opportunity for professional growth on a national level in an industry that she loves.
Above all, King is grateful that the California Self Storage Association’s board of directors were open to the idea and willing to allow her to share her time, experience, and knowledge with the SSA’s members in the western states—an agreement that encourages a collaborative dynamic while upholding the independence of the CSSA.
And, despite being humbly surprised by the proposition, King is grateful that the SSA chose her as a representative for the West Coast. “I’m glad they picked me,” she says, adding that she plans to make the most of her allotted monthly time assisting the SSA to provide significant support to the other western states.
Erica Shatzer is the editor of Mini-Storage Messenger, Self-Storage Now!, and Self-Storage Canada.