Jeff and Melissa Seibert have been part of Columbia for decades. Their real estate company, Associates Properties, helps residents become homeowners with their extensive knowledge of home buying and the local programs that exist for the area. They also own one the towns laundromats. Over the last few years they’ve been building out a new business for Columbia: SmartStor, a premier self-storage facility for residents and businesses in the area.
The Seiberts have been part owners of a lot on Union Street for awhile, but had struggled to find a purpose for the land due to the challenging location. Being adjacent to a railway and a major trucking route made finding the right business model difficult. They eventually got a recommendation to build a self storage facility under the theory that the industry was underserved in the Columbia community. They brought in Investment Real Estate, a commercial real estate company out of York, to determine the feasibility of the business. Their thesis was proved correct; Columbia was in dire need of a premium self storage solution close to the city.
Jeff has been a customer of the bank for over thirty years, so he reached out to Mike Maurer, one of our Commercial Lenders, to see if he could partner with us on the project. Union Community Bank is one of the few truly local Banks you can partner with. As Jeff mentioned, you can go to Union and “if the deal makes sense, they listen.” Mike and Jeff worked closely together to figure out how to finance the business and find a loan structure the made sense. They also worked with the bank’s Chief Lending Officer, Peter Miklos. “Peter had extensive knowledge of the industry from an operations standpoint, and gave us a lot of great advice,” said Jeff.
Craig Dussinger of CSD Construction was brought in as the contractor to build the facility. The design was something the Seiberts were very adamant on. “We wanted the building to blend in with the neighborhood. Self storage facilities have a tendency to be an eyesore and we wanted to ensure that ours felt like a part of the community.” Dry stack stone was used to accent the sides of the buildings, and black vinyl fencing was used to create a cleaner, more premium feel to the exterior. They also planted trees and expanded the green space to improve the aesthetic.
The facility is state of the art, with 24/7 access and camera security, climate controlled units, free locks, tenant insurance, and ability to find, rent, and pay for your unit online. Many of the units feature interior access with roll up doors at both ends for added convenience. The sizes range from a modest 5X5 unit that’s great for basic storage needs all the way up to 10X30 that can serve as storage for large vehicles. It’ll serve as an optimal storage location for watercraft and boat owners being right next to the Susquehanna.
SmartStor opened in October with many of the units already reserved, and the Seiberts are hoping to reach 100% occupancy over the course of the next year. Their differentiator, on top of the quality of the facility that they built, is their personal touch. They make sure to meet each one of their customers before they move into a unit to ensure they not only get the right features for what they are storing, but also don’t pay more than they have to. They treat their customers as neighbors, because they are. “We want our customers to be happy. When we shake their hand we want them to feel that they are going to have a good experience.”
Visit their website at www.smartstor.us to learn how they can benefit you or your business.
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