Who's Who in Self-Storage: Ramey jackson, CEO of Janus International

Posted by Erica Shatzer on Apr 23, 2024 6:30:10 PM

Ramey Jackson is the CEO of Janus International Group, a leading global manufacturer and supplier of turn-key self-storage building solutions, including roll-up and swing doors, hallway systems, re-locatable storage units and facility and door automation technologies.


Last year, Janus celebrated their 20th year in business. Janus has grown significantly over the past two decades and their footprint now spans the world with several locations in the U.S. as well as subsidiaries in Europe, Australia, and a joint venture in Mexico.


Speaking to the growth Janus has experienced in the past 20 years, Jackson says, “Since 2002, our operations have expanded to encompass 15 manufacturing and distribution plants, over 10,000 active customers and more than 1,500 employees globally. We have worked hard to stay ahead of the ever-changing self-storage industry’s needs through constant innovation, attention to quality, and unmatched service."


Continues Jackson, "Representative of these initiatives are our game changing R3 program, whose genesis of restore, rebuild, and replace has maximized value and rent for owners across the industry as well as our Nokē Smart Entry System that was designed to automate once manual processes for facilities while improving customer convenience, which provides opportunities for operators to save on operational costs and drive rental rates.”


Noke Smart Entry


When MSM interviewed Jackson in May of 2021, facility automation was on the rise due to the pandemic as well as customer demand for a more seamless rental and access experience. In less than three years, a seamless customer experience has become the primary focus of many self-storage owner-operators.


The reason behind the emphasis is simple: consumer trends. Data collected within the industry reveals that self-storage customers have a penchant for convenience. With 30 to 40 percent of move-ins occurring after-hours, according to consumer data collected from facilities equipped with Janus International’s Nokē Smart Entry system, 24/7 access is becoming a convenience that self-storage properties can’t afford to disregard, especially those situated within highly competitive markets.


Ramey Quote

“It extends revenue generation without increasing labor costs,” Jackson says about the Nokē Smart Entry system, which Janus International Group introduced to the self-storage industry in 2018. He adds that anytime access is one example of the “modern consumer preference.”

Modern Consumer Preference

Essentially, the modern consumer preference is a disposition to conveniences made possible through modern technologies like Nokē. To better understand what the modern consumer preference entails, let’s highlight some additional statistics:

  • Per Janus’ consumer research, 87 percent of tenants prefer renting smart units (those equipped with smart technologies) over the alternative (a standard unit secured with a traditional lock that is opened with a physical key).
  • For 53 percent of Gen-Z customers and 50 percent of millennial customers, having someone on site at all times is the least important facility feature. (Source: SSA’s 2023 Self-Storage Demand Study). This growing level of comfort with contactless customer interactions is one reason self-storage facilities are pursuing technologies that make virtual management not only possible but more effective.
  • Since the self-storage industry seems to emulate the hotel industry, it’s also worth noting that 73 percent of people surveyed for Oracle’s “Hospitality in 2025” report agreed that they want to use their mobile device to manage their hotel stay and “they’re more likely to stay at a hotel that offers self-service technology to minimize contact with the staff and other guests.”

Those statistics corroborate two truths that Jackson and Janus have known for nearly a decade: “Convenience is valued” and “tech is here to stay.” He believes that because technology is “standard in other industries,” it has become the “expectation of [self-storage] tenants” as well, which is why Janus has continued to develop its offerings.


Through its Nokē Smart Entry system, Janus helps owner-operators “meet customers where they are”—on their smartphones—by facilitating the “last mile” of a seamless customer experience. “The customer experience starts at the front end,” Jackson adds, “but it extends to the unit.”


In other words, the customer experience encompasses more than just enabling the customer to find your facility in an online search and complete the rental process through your website. It includes all the touch points customers encounter as they navigate your self- storage facility. And nowadays, with more and more customers detailing their experiences (and frustrations) on social media and review sites, making the entire rental process as “frictionless” as possible has become paramount to success.


According to Jackson, the Nokē Smart Entry system can streamline and elevate the entire on-site experience to accommodate customers’ preference for convenience. Starting at the access gate, it allows tenants to enter the site through an app they download onto their smartphone or smart watch, thus eliminating the need for key fobs that are easily lost or PIN codes that are oftentimes forgotten. Once past the gate, Nokē Smart Entry permits owner-operators to grant/restrict access to loading bays, elevators, floors, specialty storage areas, and even restrooms. Then, thanks to its wayfinding tools, Nokē Smart Entry assists tenants with locating their units.


Finally, upon arriving at their unit, tenants can effortlessly open their doors with their smartphones instead of fumbling around with physical keys. An additional benefit of this “digital key” is that it can be shared with family, friends, or delivery drivers; tenants can quickly authorize (and revoke) unit access at their discretion through the app.


Smart Benefits

In addition to enabling a seamless customer experience, Jackson states that the Nokē Smart Entry system assists with the streamlining of facility operations and lessens the burden of labor shortages through various automations. The overlock process is one aspect of operations that can be streamlined. With smart locks, managers no longer need to place overlocks on the units of delinquent tenants nor remove overlocks from units after tenants pay their outstanding balance. These tasks are automatically performed electronically as soon as a tenant pays or becomes delinquent.


Moreover, because there are no keys/combinations for smart locks and the system notifies management when a door is ajar, lock checks and the cutting of locks are no longer daily duties of the property manager. Replacing physical locks with smart locks can also reduce the amount of labor required to operate a facility while simultaneously decreasing labor costs and shortages. As Jackson says, Nokē “bridges that gap.


Security is one of the more obvious benefits of the Nokē Smart Entry system. To that end, Jackson mentions that facilities outfitted with its smart locks have reported 95 percent fewer break-in claims—a statistic that insurance companies may reduce premiums over.


Another enticing benefit for owner-operators is the fact that these tech-forward features and automations can boost the bottom line. Data derived from the Nokē Smart Entry system can be analyzed and then utilized to adjust rates and labor. As examples, customers who access their units on a daily basis could be charged a higher rental rate, or on-site management could be reduced on days with minimal traffic.


“The data piece is of tremendous value,” says Jackson. “Its usage can determine customer behavior, which helps drive revenue.”


First Impressions Matter

Indeed, technology can provide self-storage owner-operators with an advantage over the competition but adding high-tech features would be a futile endeavor if the rest of the facility is outdated or poorly maintained. Customers won’t care whether there’s a smart lock on a door if it barely opens, and most won’t feel comfortable storing their belongings at a facility that looks like it’s been past its prime for a long time, especially when plenty of modern properties have opened within markets across the U.S. throughout the last five years.


“Sixty percent of facilities are over 20 years old,” Jackson says, adding that owner-operators of these older sites can either “continue with lower rates” or update their facilities to compete with new development.


Janus doors


Janus International has a program designed to assist owner-operators who want to modernize their facilities in order to regain a competitive edge, reclaim higher rental rates, and remove potential liabilities: R3. Through R3 (restore, rebuild, replace), Janus’ crew has been refreshing old self-storages with new roll-up doors, hallway systems, unit mixes, and security features since 2009. Owner-operators can also repurpose idle land with the program and the company’s brand of relocatable MASS (moveable additional storage structure) units.


Additionally, Facilitate, an expanding part of the R3 division, offers comprehensive facility maintenance services to owner-operators who want to hire Janus to complete their routine maintenance and/or repairs. Per the company’s website, “no challenge is too large or too small for Facilitate.”


Janus doors


Fast Forward

As Jackson notes, the self-storage industry has made rapid progress in terms of technology and the leveraging of data since the onset of the pandemic. But he foresees even more innovation on the horizon. “New tech will evolve,” he says, pointing to the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and omnichannel systems as the next wave of customer-focused, customer-driven integrations that will likely reshape the sector.
Janus storage


While the future isn’t set in stone, a few things are certain: Customers and convenience will continue to reign supreme, technology will keep advancing to enable owner-operators to meet the ever-increasing expectations of customers, and “Janus will keep putting time and energy into creating technologies that are high-tech and easy to use.”
Erica Shatzer is the editor of Modern Storage Media.