For nearly 30 years, the Arizona Self-Storage Association (AZSA) has been strengthening the self-storage industry in Arizona by promoting professional business standards and presenting a unified voice on issues affecting owners/operators throughout the state. The association, which aims to engage, educate, and empower its members, has grown its membership to approximately 500 facility and vendor members since 1996. And one of its former vendor members began facilitating the association’s return to its roots in 2020.
A New Career
Before Amy Amideo became the interim executive director of the Arizona Self-Storage Association in March of 2020, she was a business owner. She and her husband, Brian, co-owned Audio Video Rescue for 15 years. Amideo handled the accounting and administrative duties for the company, while her husband installed the home theater equipment in their clients’ homes.
When the Great Recession hit, and American households cut their spending, the couple quickly pivoted to keep their company in business. With security becoming more of a concern for people and businesses during that time, Audio Video Rescue began installing security cameras and gate systems. Unfortunately, increased competition in the sector would push them to close their doors in 2016, but not before they became familiar with AZSA through one of their clients’ memberships.
After that venture came to an end, Amideo started her own business strategy company, Azimuth Strategy Group, and joined the AZSA as a vendor member in 2019. The same year, she volunteered to assist with the association’s 21stannual conference and trade show in September.
That volunteer experience proved to be a lifechanging event for Amideo, who admits she “wasn’t happy in finance,” which she calls a stressful and highly competitive industry. “Anne Mari DeCoster [former AZSA executive director] was taking a position elsewhere,” recalls Amideo. “She thought I’d be a good fit for it, and I was ready for something new.”
For Amideo, “watching industry competitors giving each other advice” at AZSA’s 2019 conference was an eye-opening incident. She realized the association—and the entire self-storage sector—was formed by cooperative, helpful individuals who want to see each other succeed, even if they are competing for market share, and make charitable giving a priority.
With DeCoster’s endorsement in February 2020, and admiration for the self-storage industry’s sharing nature, Amideo made the decision to join the Arizona Self-Storage Association as the interim executive director in March 2020.
Though initially apprehensive about the position, she says the entire “incredible” AZSA board “rallied around” her; their support enabled her to help maneuver the association and its members through the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon her joining the association, and the onset of the pandemic, Richard Marmor, AZSA’s legal/legislator chair, advocated to have self-storage deemed an essential business. Therefore, one of the association’s first tasks was to sift through tons of information from various sources to determine what should be shared with AZSA’s members so they could safely keep their facilities open for business. Because new data and updates to CDC guidelines continued to be released throughout the first several months of the pandemic, ensuring members had the most accurate and timely information was an ongoing process that Amideo had to oversee.
Despite the chaos, there was one silver lining: “I had a year to figure things out,” says Amideo, who remains appreciative of the assistance she received from the AZSA board members during that adjustment period.
Like many other events, AZSA canceled its annual conference and trade show in 2020 and 2021 due to restrictions for gatherings. Amideo’s first conference as the AZSA’s executive director was held in February 2022 and celebrated the association’s 25th anniversary, but the event was postponed twice because of the ongoing safety regulations and limitations. She mastered how to pivot on a dime and managed to host a grand celebration at the WeKoPa (“Four Peaks” in Yavapai) Casino Resort in Ft. McDowell—a new, more luxurious location for the elevated event that boasts fine dining, a decadent spa, upscale amenities, posh furnishings, a gaming floor, and two award-winning golf courses for the association’s annual charity golf tournament.
One of the key changes Amideo implemented for that year’s conference was utilizing a separate but connected exhibitor area and attendee area. The exhibit space was designed to have easy access to the attendee area; they were divided by an airwall with doors leading in and out of both areas. She also ensured that the trade show was accessible to attendees throughout the entire conference, with dedicated exhibit time on both days as well as open accessibility.
Amideo has been responsible for executing several new initiatives as well, including “Ruralpolooza” (see the Ruralpolooza sidebar for details); new corporate sponsorships (see the corporate sponsorships sidebar); “Project Hope,” an endeavor that aims to provide operators and managers with resources to pass along to their homeless tenants; new legislative efforts and the online “Legal Connection” with Jeffrey J. Greenberger, partner at Greenberger & Brewer, LLP; networking breakfasts; and townhall-style meetings within the eight regions of the state—all of which are enabling her to home in on the three main objectives of the AZSA’s mission statement (engage, educate, and empower).
In conjunction with Ruralpolooza, she is in the process of reinstating the association’s 20-plus-year-old district liaison program to give AZSA’s rural members a more prominent voice. It will be fully functional by the end of 2024. “While I was out meeting the owners and managers, I was also building relationships and seeing who might be a good fit for the district liaison position,” says Amideo. “It’s vital to have representation in parts of the state such as Flagstaff, Yuma, Lake Havasu, and the White Mountains. The main purpose was to have that local person who knew the people and the town well be an extension of the AZSA board. They would have much more influence on owners attending regional meetings, workshops, and networking events. When self-storage was a new industry, the board wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the laws and statutes and promote what was a novel idea then—collaboration. The board has always believed in strength in numbers.”
She goes on to say, “The district liaison will have direct access to a designated board member. This will now be a mentor role for the AZSA board member.”
Building on the hard work of long-time and former AZSA board members, Amideo is dedicated to engaging and empowering the next generation of self-storage professionals and AZSA members through the district liaison program and various in-person events that foster collaboration.
“AZSA has the direct line to what our regional issues are and the owners’ best practices to share with their communities and the state at large,” Amideo says about the association’s efforts to uphold collaboration. “It will give them a sense that they are part of something bigger, a feeling of community. It also helps everyone realize the importance of the association’s legal and legislative pillar. This is difficult to see on a daily basis, but it’s crucial when laws are being proposed that are unfavorable to our industry.”
Speaking of laws, Amideo mentions that AZSA has received a grant from the Self Storage Association (SSA) to fund a two-pronged bill that aims to incorporate a towing statute and a $5,000 liability cap into the state’s existing self-storage laws. Along with the SSA, Triadvocates, and Barb Meaney, AZSA and Amideo have been working with lobbyists to make these legislative improvements. “By June or July, we’ll know if it’s passed,” she says, pointing out that simply having a liability cap within a rental agreement or lease may not hold up in court, should a litigious tenant file a lawsuit. “We have a great operations manual and resources, including the Sales and Foreclosure Manaul, to help owners operate their business with peace of mind.”
Now, as Amideo attentively prepares for AZSA’s upcoming golf tournament (benefiting Kure It), conference, and trade show on April 17, 18, and 19 at the WeKoPa Casino Resort in Ft. McDowell, Ariz., sponsored by Deans & Homer, she can’t contain her enthusiasm for the near- and long-term future of the association and the industry.
“I’m really excited about where we’re going!” Amideo says, adding that she has a strategic plan for 2024 to increase AZSA’s market share by 20 percent.