Here at Lockaway Storage, we know our success is due to our wonderful team. The care they give our renters is unparalleled and we want to highlight their milestones along the way. Below is an interview with San Antonio team member Daniel Pizzuto who is celebrating his 1-year anniversary with Lockaway Storage this week. All interviews are performed by Peter Soto.
Daniel is the facility manager at Lockaway Storage – WW White.
Peter: How did you get started in the self-storage industry?
Daniel: I sold my business about a year and a half ago and kind of semi-retired, and then decided I wanted to work again and wanted something that wasn’t a high-pressure job, and I applied at Lockaway and was hired that day and I like it. It’s not a micromanaged job. You can get in and do your work and be happy, and it’s a good experience for me. I’m very, very happy working for this company.
Peter: That’s great. What kind of business did you have before?
Daniel: I owned a swimming pool company.
Peter: Oh nice, nice, and I know that we have a few commercial renters that do that kind of work. Do you guys have any at your facility?
Daniel: I have one that’s been here for quite awhile and then I give him extended gate hours and stuff like that. So–
Peter: That’s great.
Daniel: -he’s a worker, he works early in the morning. If I can’t let him get into his storage unit then he can’t work.
Peter: Yep, yep, that’s for sure. No doubt about that. Well, cool. Let me see, I got a couple of questions written down just so I don’t forget anything You said that it’s not a micromanaged job, that you’re enjoying working it. What would you say is the best thing about working for Lockaway?
Daniel: The interaction with people, the support from Don. Don is a very wealthy individual and has a lot of businesses, but in the same breath he takes the time to be able to talk with his employees on a regular basis, and he’s pretty down to earth. It’s kind of hard to find an owner like that in the industry nowadays, any industry really. But he’s a great guy, everybody is pretty much hands-on. My district manager is real nice, it don’t bother me. I bring in money and I don’t have any units to rent. I’m 100% full.
Peter: There you go, yeah. That’s great. That’s a good situation to be in for sure.
Daniel: Yes, sir.
Peter: Yeah, so are you from the San Antonio area, then?
Daniel: No, I’m originally from the Berkshires up in Massachusetts.
Peter: Oh, okay, great, what brought you down to Texas?
Daniel: It was a long time ago, I was going through a divorce. just got [laughter] drunk one night with a bunch of my friends, and just put my finger on the map. And it said San Antonio, and that’s where I ended up going. [laughter]
Peter: No way. You’ve got to be kidding me?
Daniel: No, that’s what happened.
Peter: Wow. That takes a lot of guts to do something like that.
Daniel: [laughter] I needed the change [laughter].
Peter: It’s good that you made the change. It sounds like you’re pretty happy with it.
Daniel: Oh yeah, yeah. I’ve been married for [inaudible] now. I met her when I came down here. And I have one son. He’s 16. He’s a good boy. He plays football and just stays out of trouble.
Peter: That’s great. It sounds like you carved out a nice spot for yourself.
Daniel: I think I did.
Peter: Nice. Nice. One thing that I’ve been asking everybody that I’ve been talking to, “If I’d never been to San Antonio before,” you’ve been down there for a while now, “what’s something that I can’t miss when I go down there?”
Daniel: The marketplace.
Peter: The marketplace? What is your favorite thing to do in the marketplace?
Daniel: Well, the Market Square is a place where you just walk around and kind of enjoy the different things that they have going on. My wife and I enjoy going to some Fiesta events. And we just have a lot of fun here. Fiesta’s real nice. We should be starting in a couple weeks here. We like to go to the oyster bake. That’s our favorite one that we go to. I’m the kind of person that, I’m not too good around a whole bunch of people. But we do need to get out early. Crowds start coming in, and I don’t like to be with a big, big crowd of people. And again, like I said I’m pretty laid back and I keep to myself.
Peter: You don’t have to wait in line when you get there early, either.
Daniel: Exactly, exactly. We get there when the gates open and we’re out by noon. But we have our fun. We walk around, eat the different foods, stuff like that. But there’s lots to do here in San Antonio. There’s so much.
Peter: Yeah, I’ve been a few times. It’s been great. So you’re semi-retired. Do you have any hobbies that you do that you occupy your time with?
Daniel: From time to time I’ll purchase older vehicles, and restore them, and then sell them. That I usually do. Other than that, I just take care of my pool. I like to cook a lot. I like to barbecue. Obviously, I’m Italian, so I love to cook Italian food, as well.
Peter: I make a mean puttanesca sauce myself. I do a mean chicken piccata too. So I’m right there with you on the cooking.
Daniel: Yeah I made some chicken parm, some homemade sauce, chicken parm meatballs and this weekend and had the family over. Sat there and pigged out.
Peter: Dang. I’m glad it’s just about lunchtime because that description just made me super hungry. [laughter]
Daniel: I know that.
Peter: What was the last one you restored?
Daniel: It was a ’78 Camaro.
Peter: Oh man, yeah if you have a picture of that– Oh jeez that thing looks sweet.
Daniel: I’ll have to look and see if I got one. I’ve restored that thing and some guy from [corpus?] he was in the service, he ended up purchasing it. I just now recently bought a 2003 Chevy Avalanche for my son and and I’m doing some work to that as well, kind of fixing it up a little and stuff like that. I don’t know if he’s going to keep it or if we’ll resell it and get him something different. It’s my little thing. I like to pitter-putter with stuff like that. I collect a lot of beer paraphernalia, like signs and stuff like that. I just collect it and put it in my man cave. And like I said, my life is pretty laid back. I don’t- I’m not a big drama person. I like to come to work here and have fun. I’ve got a very good rapport with all my customers that are renting here, first name basis. I have 270 units. Every unit’s full. We’re getting ready to build another 200. Life is good. People come in. I’m not in the richest part of town. I actually live over by Sea World, so it’s about a half-hour commute.
Peter: Yeah, yeah. And it sounds like they’re giving you a lot of ownership over the way that you run things and that you kind of basically just run with it.
Daniel: Yeah, I do. I mean, being a business owner for 14 years, I had a retail store as well as my construction company. And so I know what it is to run a business. And the way that I feel is that the least I have to bother upper management, the better for me. Because then they’re not having to worry about little things. If there’s something that needs to be fixed and I can do it, I do it. So it’s kind of like a no drama facility.
Peter: I’m sure the company loves that, yeah [laughter].
Daniel: And that’s what I like. I don’t have to worry about Don worrying about me again. Whenever he comes into town he always makes an effort to come over and say hi. At the Christmas party, we sat there for a good 45 minutes just talking about different things. And he’s not a guy that has his nose up in the air. He’s a very influential individual.
Oh, yeah and you know, you would think that someone like that wouldn’t even take the time of day to talk to you and I can call him on his cell phone right now and I can guarantee he’d answer and that’s what I like about working with this company. You know, you have an individual that has a lot of assets, that’s doing a hundred thousand things a day but still would take the time to talk to you. That makes the difference with STRAT and I think if it wasn’t like that I probably wouldn’t be here but, you know, It’s just like the way I ran my business. I always took care of my employees and I always talked to them and you’ve got to. You can take care of your employees and make sure that they’re doing, they’re getting what they expected out of the company as a working force and that’s a good thing.
Peter: Yeah, yeah. I think so. Great. Well, Daniel, that was such an endorsement I don’t really know where to go from there.[laughter] That was kind of everything that I had as far as prepared questions go. I am kind of doing a funny thing with everybody and asking them if they want to give anybody in the company a shout out during their anniversary blog post. Is there anybody at the company that you’d like to give a shout out to?
Daniel: I mean, there’s a couple of people in the company, I mean, Christina, she was the one that initially hired me and at that time i did not even know that she was the vice president and I went into it with an attitude [that said?], Hey, this is my retirement job, I don’t want to be micromanaged, you put me in a position and I just go forward with it. Then all of a sudden I get called back after the interview and am hired and I didn’t have no idea that she was the vice president of the company. Don is a great person and my district manager, Thomas, is kind of like a on-hand no-hands kind of guy. He knows that things are good here. If I call him there’s a reason for it. Other than that he kind of lets me go with the flow and run the facility.