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 Don Dodge, who is celebrating his 8-year anniversary with Lockaway Storage this week.
Don is the manager at Lockaway Storage – Airport.
Peter: Wow! Eight years in any profession is a long time. How did you get started in self storage with Lockaway?
Don: Well, back in 1997 I was between jobs looking for a change with my career. I was kind of tired of the travel. Came across a listing for self storage and the main plus for me, the thing I learned from that short time as a manager, was the fact that it’s inside/outside. You’re not tied to a desk. The combination of inside and outside job duties keeps it very active and not boring. It’s a job where you basically get to use all of your talents.
Peter: Yeah, moving around is important. I’ve heard people say that sitting is the new smoking.
Don: And now there’s all the worries about the screen, blue light.
Peter: Seems like there’s always something. So you were with a different company before Lockaway?
Don: This is actually my third company in self storage. The first one was Self Storage for You. Then when I came back to the business, I was with Centurion. That’s who I was with when Don bought us.
Peter: Is Lockaway much different than the other companies you worked with in the past?
Don: Yes they are. It’s kind of in the middle. When I was with Botkin, it was like a one-man, mom and pop kind of operation. When I moved over to Centurion they have about 4 locations and other interests the way Lockaway does. I’ve moved into and seen the way Lockaway has grown from 7-9 facilities all the way up to where we are now. Thirty just in San Antonio. I like Lockaway better even though it’s bigger. Kind of like what I say about San Antonio. It’s the 7th largest city in the US, but it has a small town feel. Lockaway is growing and making leaps forward and getting bigger, but we always keep that personal connection.
Peter: That’s one of the things I like about it as well. It sounds like you’ve been in San Antonio for a long time. Have you always lived there?
Don: Nope. I was actually born in Houston. My dad was in city management, so we moved around a lot in Texas and Oklahoma with that political type of job. Basically I was raised in Austin, which isn’t too far, but I’ve always had family in San Antonio. I consider San Antonio and Austin my hometown. From where I live now, my family in Austin is about 45 minutes away.
Peter: That’s great. Makes getting together during the holidays really easy too.
Don: Oh, yeah.
Peter: So what’s something somebody traveling through San Antonio need to see or do that they may not know about?
Don: Always check your calendar, but there’s the Texas Folklife Festival. We just got finished with the biggest one, which is called Fiesta. It’s a 10-12 day event that celebrates the city. You know San Antonio is getting ready to celebrate its 300th anniversary. This next year it will be even bigger and grander. They’re going to do a year long celebration, so all of the events are going to have something extra. Any of the local festivals or markets, yeah. Those are the good times to come.
Peter: Are there any restaurants people should try?
Don: Again, I’m a big fan of mom and pop Tex Mex. It’s really good, although my one weakness is Indian food. There’s a place right next to the bank that I like to eat at when I go to do my deposits. It’s called Indian Oven. They have great Indian food and all that, but Tex Mex is really the big thing here. I haven’t found a bad place yet. There are so many. I don’t think I’ve hit them all yet.
Peter: So you’re not always at work. Do you have any hobbies people may not know about?
Don: Ever since I was a kid, I have been a big F1 fan and they went and built a track in my backyard up in Austin. I’ve been able to attend all of those races. I’ve only missed two. One because it was rained out. The other one, we only missed the Austin race because I was in Scotland and I was able to drive down to Silverstone and experience F1 on another continent, so that was a really exciting event. The next closest races to me are in Montreal and Mexico City, so that’s on my bucket list.
Peter: I want to go back to self storage real quick. Is there anything I haven’t asked about regarding self storage that you want people to know?
Don: There was a question on your list asking what I learned. More than that, I think what’s important is what I have experienced. When you get to my age, you’ve pretty much learned everything. My employment history has always been in service related, whether it’s mechanical or financial services like student loans or home air conditioning, is that it’s a service. Providing a good service and being consistent with your customers is important. I’ve seen so many things in self storage that I thought I should maybe become a screenwriter. Make a “Real Storage Customers” reality show or something like that, because the stories are endless as to why people are storing. It would make an interesting show, I think, haha.
Peter: Oh, yeah. Endless. Everybody needs self storage for a variety of reasons.
Peter: The experience is really the important thing.
Don: Yeah, and the ones who really appreciate the effort, those are the ones that are so satisfying. They make up for the people who are indifferent or don’t care. Working with someone and helping them through a difficult time, often that’s what happens. Sometimes with storage, it’s about helping someone get over that hump.
Peter: You definitely meet people who are at transition periods in their life and good customer service, understanding, all of that is so important. Those were basically all of my questions. Is there anyone at the company you’d like to give a shout out to?
Don: Oh, yeah. Starting at the top, Don and Tristina have been wonderful. They’ve made the last 8 years a real blessing. We’ve had our ups and downs, but they’ve always been personable enough and one-on-one enough to work through and differences we’ve ever had. Basically SPMI and Lockaway Storage are one of the best kept secrets in San Antonio as far as best employer. One thing I’ve missed lately is that we don’t get together as much. Now it’s a quick meeting and then we’re done. The people I’ve met, the people they’ve hired, they’re very consistent with the type of person and the quality of person they hire, so really everyone deserves a shout out. A gentleman named George Burns a number of years ago said, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I wake up in the morning and it feels good to go to work.