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Reaching My Own Milestone with TSSA

Jul 15, 2011

By Director of Marketing and Membership Silvia Pendleton

TSSA is celebrating 25 years in the self-storage industry.  That’s a significant milestone for an industry that hasn’t been around that long!  That means that TSSA was established in the early years of the industry’s growth.  Fast forward to 2011 and TSSA is poised to celebrate accomplishments and significant milestones.  I too will be reaching a significant milestone at this convention…this will be my 10th TSSA convention.  I joined the Association a couple of years before buying a facility!

My very first TSSA convention was in 2002 in San Antonio.  I had spent months researching the self-storage industry and was convinced that it was a sound investment and a good move but I wanted more evidence.  I’m not sure why I hadn’t run across the TSSA website (TMSA at the time) but for some reason, I didn’t find it until just a few days before convention started! 

The Early Bird Pricing had long expired, and I was looking at paying the full non-member rate for the registration.  I scanned the educational offerings and I thanked my lucky stars for steering me to this site!  I signed up on the spot.

With just days to go before convention started, I ended up in one of the outlying hotels.  Luckily, TSSA had set up shuttle service from the various hotels, and getting to the convention center was never a problem. 

Memories of the rest of the experience are a little blurry now that seven years have passed, but a few things still resonate when I think back.  I remember the excitement I felt when I walked into the registration area and saw the throngs of people gathering there --- all of them interested in the self-storage business!  I remember meeting Emily Mathews for the first time and her winning me over when she offered the member rate – if I promised to join within 30 days of the convention. 

I also remember the frustration I felt when I realized the amount of time wasted trying to find information and trying to make connections, when all I needed was to attend the TSSA Convention.  The education sessions were an eye-opener and packed with valuable information.  I still refer to the notes and handouts from that convention! 

I can’t even begin to describe how incredibly useful and timely the trade show was for me.  Every possible storage-related service was represented.  Every vendor I met at that show was patient, knowledgeable, and professional.  I went to the preview AND the full show the next day, and felt I could’ve used more time with the vendors!  I had so many questions and was hungry for the information they shared.

TSSA closed the convention with a live auction benefiting the Shriners Childrens Hospital.  The good natured bidding wars were fun to watch and I got caught up in the excitement.  I could tell that I was among some caring and generous people who enjoyed each other’s company. 

I left that first convention with an armload of information and renewed interest.  Every bit of knowledge gained at that convention, and those following, has been put to use at some point.   I’ll always have fond memories of my first TSSA Convention and that feeling of hitting the jackpot! 

The last couple of years as an owner/operator have been tough.  I won’t lie about it.  Two years ago, we were reeling from what seemed like a mass exodus as even long-time tenants tightened their belts and moved out.  The higher than- usual vacancies had us cutting every possible expense to make up for the lost income.  But the TSSA membership was never on the list of expenses to cut.  As a small operator, the legal expense of developing our own lease would’ve been staggering and contemplating doing business without the protection of the TSSA lease was not an option.  Attendance at the TSSA convention was also a must.  The convention provides valuable information, updates on trends and inspiration to continue through these rough times.  Today, occupancy levels are back to normal, new tenants have filled those vacant units, rent increases are possible again and the outlook isn’t as grim.  At least this is true in our market and for our facility.  I’m once again looking forward to another TSSA convention and very pleased to be reaching my own milestone in this industry.

I might have been overwhelmed when I started on this journey but TSSA helped me find my way to a great business.  To Emily’s credit, I did join the Association right after attending, and I haven’t looked back since.  Happy birthday TSSA!

Silvia Pendleton and her husband Joe, own a self-storage facility in Granbury. She hopes to combine her prior experience in marketing and association management to her work with TSSA and provide an "owners" perspective.    


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