Arlington Resident Becomes Own Boss With Storage Franchise

Monday, September 29, 2008

A lifelong Metroplex resident is banking on the ever-increasing popularity of mobile self-storage to support his newfound life as a business owner.

Arlington resident Mark Clauder recently opened a Tarrant County franchise of South Carolina-based UNITS, a company that specializes in portable storage units that operate in the same way one rents a fixed-storage unit.

"What you'd do is call us up and kind of give us an idea of what you want to move. For instance, if you have three bedrooms of a house, we suggest a 16-footer," said Clauder, pointing to a large, white fiberglass box with a sliding garage door-esque front. "What we do is we load this up on a truck, take it to the home and put it wherever they want it in the driveway or the street, you name it." From that point on, the renter takes care of the rest. Once filled, a UNITS truck moves the storage unit to another location or stores it at a company warehouse.

Clauder, a Fort Worth native, worked in computers and technology before deciding to break into the world of ownership.

"I really enjoyed achieving things, doing things, speaking in front of people and incorporating some of the sales skills I've learned, but I was never in a sales role," Clauder said. "I wanted to do something for me." He began exploring franchise opportunities in August 2007 before settling on the growing mobile self-storage industry.

"I believe franchise is the right way to go because you immediately become a branded commodity," Clauder said. "You have support, you're not blazing the trail totally yourself. Somebody else has already invented the wheel once or twice." UNITS was founded in 2003 and operates on a franchise basis. Franchisees purchase equipment, at least 52 units to begin, and take training courses at the corporate headquarters. Franchises also are granted territorial protection.

As for Clauder, the operation is entirely self-funded to the tune of about $500,000.

"It's not a short-term proposition, it's not a get-rich-quick," he said. "It's a true business that will last." Clauder is confident in the business model's strength.

"If you look in this area, I notice there are a lot of self-storage warehouses still being built. Every day I see somebody building a new one somewhere," Clauder said. "So that tells me it's still a strong industry. However, the mobile self-storage is fairly open at this point.

"PODS has done an excellent job of developing an industry and coming up with a concept," he said. "What UNITS has done has gone and bettered it in some ways." UNITS are available in two sizes: a 12-foot model and 16-foot model, which rent for $119 and $139 a month, respectively. Renters are also charged $40 per truck move, and may store the UNITS at Clauder's Arlington warehouse at no cost.

Area resident Nathan Meador, a Lockheed Martin employee, is renting a 12-foot storage unit to hold some belongings while he and his wife move.

"Excellent I never used a unit like that before, of course we all refer to them as PODS," Meador said. "But I passed on PODS themselves and I spoke with Mark The unit was in great shape, everything was great. I was actually bragging to folks at work." Meador used the mobile unit for storage of temperatures-insensitive items while a traditional, climate-controlled unit holds electronics.

"It was my first time to use one," he said. "It was great because he delivers it to your doorstep, you don't have to load it up a truck or anything." One month in, Clauder is focusing on his goals, both immediate and long-term.

"The trick I've seen so far is being flexible," he said, "especially if you've never opened a business before, there are a lot of things you don't know until you get there.

"Don't go into it without realizing you're going to have some problems, but keep your eye on the goal, and that may be a year or two years out. But let's say it's going to take two years before you have a business that's actually turning a profit," Clauder said. "Just realize that you have a goal and two years really isn't that long if you think about it." UNITS 1200 Gambrel Road, Suite 104 Arlington 76104 817-375-1521

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Units Mobile Storage
234 Seven Farms Drive Suite 111B
Daniel Island, SC

Phone: (843) 571-2377
Toll Free: 1-866-569-UNIT
Fax: (843) 571-2375

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