Self Storage Milestone: Happy 9-Year Anniversary to Don Dodge!
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 team member Don Dodge, who is celebrating his 9-year anniversary with Lockaway Storage.
Shannon: How did you get started with Lockaway?
Don: Basically I had been in the industry for about two and a half years prior to coming back into it. In the mid 90’s I went into marketing, but I got tired of it and got back into storage in 2006. I got hired by Centurion Storage here in San Antonio and was an assistant manager there for a number of years. Then along the way I became the manager of the Lockaway Storage O’Connor facility back when it was Centurion. Then Don came and bought both Encino and O’Connor, took me under his wing. Now I’ve been here for nine years!
Shannon: Oh my gosh! Well congratulations, that’s fantastic. Is self storage what you thought it would be?
Don: Yeah. That’s why when I got into it and saw how it worked, saw the customers, and the social contact, I thought my skills fit well with it. Then, when I got out of marketing, I thought, you know what? I really liked that. So I pursued the company to get back into it. I was tired of the office work and the travel. What I really like about the job is the mix of being inside and outside. You’re not stuck in the office behind the desk all day. You can get outside and be active. You get to interact with the customers, which I like.
Shannon: So what was it specifically about the customers that drew you to storage?
Don: Oh I was just saying something a couple of days ago, about how I feel like we are proverbial “bartenders” ha ha! You know, people coming in and telling their stories. You really see it all. I think I could write a self storage version of a soap opera with all of the divorces, girlfriend and boyfriend break-ups, roommates, family deaths, and marriages. Just life! All of those events harbor change that involves moving or relocating, so we get to see it all.
Shannon: Yeah, I bet! Do you have any advice for anyone who’s thinking about working in self storage?
Don: Research the company. Read their reviews. See how the company treats the tenants and the employees. But the biggest tip is to find a company like Lockaway! They are very supportive and it’s very much a team operation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Nobody in this business knows everything.
Shannon: Definitely. So you mentioned how you should find a company like Lockaway, so how has your experience been working with Lockaway?
Don: We call ourselves team members, but really we’re more like a family. That was oh so evident this past Saturday when we had a celebration of life for the passing of one of our managers, Marc Gaudet. It really felt like a family loss. So this is a very close knit company. I can’t reiterate too much that this is a very supportive organization.
Shannon: That’s great to hear. So there are a lot of people that are new to renting self storage, what advice would you give those customers?
Don: Basically, it’s just do your research. The biggest thing is to do a site visit. If you’ve never done it before, get on site, check the amenities, check the unit size. There are some people that come and know exactly what they want. I have people that call and ask “What’s your smallest unit?” and they have a house they are trying to store. Then on the reverse side I have people asking “What is your biggest unit?” and it’s like, well okay but you don’t need that. So do your research. Find a facility that will let you on site and really get hands on so you can see what you’re dealing with.
Shannon: Yeah, definitely. Speaking of site visits, it’s probably also important to see the area around the facility, so can you describe what it’s like at your location?
Don: Really we aren’t “Downtown”, but we are about as close to the center of the population of the city as anybody could be. Which is just north of the airport, there are tall buildings that are in between us, so I don’t hear the landings. Really on my side it’s almost rural. It’s in a business park. At five o’clock on Friday the business park empties out, so it’s almost like being in the country here. It’s quiet. I get a ton of comments from people who come here during the week saying “What’s that wonderful smell?” because there’s a Sterling Foods next to us that makes MRE’s for the Military, and then also does pastries for H-E-B and places like that.
Shannon: Wow, I bet that does smell good! What do you like to do outside of work?
Don: I like going to parks and going hiking. Walking on the beach, that kind of thing! I just like getting out. San Antonio has some wonderful hiking trails. In fact, there is one right next door. I can walk over to that trail. It’s in the McAllister Park and I don’t know if the trail has a name. It will take you almost all the way Downtown! They are really getting the city parks linked up, so you can just go for miles and miles.
Shannon: Very cool! Are there any restaurants you like to frequent in the area?
Don: There are several. There is Grady’s BBQ, which I think is one of the better barbeque restaurants in town. There’s El Bosque Mexican Restaurant that I like to go to. There is The Indian Oven where I love to eat!
Shannon: Nice! Well, we’re on our last question then: Would you like to give a shout out to anyone?
Don: I guess really the people that have been with the company that I’ve dealt with the longest, Don Clauson and Tristina! They’ve just been like family. Very supportive and understanding when it comes to working the job. They are very accommodating to new ideas. Having been here as long as I have, I feel like I can talk to them.
“Don Dodge, there is a complete team player! He is amazing! You can always count on Don to greet you with a warm, sincere smile. Don is a skilled and knowledgeable self storage manager, but his abilities extend beyond. He has a genuine interest in continuing to grow his self storage knowledge (and many other aspects of life) He is fast to share and slow to ask for help. He often finds ways to make operations better, yet he never brings a concern up without several ways to improve or resolve the concern. Don is also philanthropic. He deeply cares about others. He volunteers his time, to help others both with SPMI and outside of our company.”
-Don Clauson, Strat Property Management CEO