About Self Storage Zone (SSZ)

Self Storage Zone (“SSZ”) is a developer and operator of Self Storage Facilities through the key personnel of Diane Tipton, Andrew Czekaj and Stephen Garchik. To date, the Principals of SSZ have developed, under construction, acquired and managed over 5,500,000 gross square feet of space in 47 self storage projects in the District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. SSZ has the development and management expertise required to oversee the design and construction of a project through the development process as well as during the all important lease-up phase as well as managing the project through stabilization and beyond. Together, this team possesses extensive experience in developing and managing all types of real estate products, but has specialized in self storage facilities since 1995. The principals involved in the venture, have structured and or developed over $3 Billion worth of real estate projects over the last thirty years.

SSZ believes that management is critical to the success of the project beginning with the initial design stages of the project. Self Storage is an operating business, thus we must develop with the flexibility to respond to the specific market in the operation of the business. We have access to the same project performance reports from the same vendors, as do all other storage facilities. However, the difference is that our property management team reviews and analyzes these numbers weekly to determine the what, why and how. Our entire team will review, on a weekly basis, the number of telephone inquiries, the number of visitors, number and type of units rented, the number of square feet rented, the inventory sold, delinquencies and payment history, to determine if we need to make any changes operationally that will make a positive difference in these numbers.

Our pricing structure must be analyzed regularly to determine if it is working and if it is not, must be reevaluated for change. Markets are definitely price sensitive. We look at creating a sense of urgency with the customers to make sure they do not leave our facility without leasing with us. We have a tried and true “plan to close” on our sales that is gospel to our property managers, and it works. We believe that the project leasing is substantially enhanced with having great security at the property, which must be tailor made for each specific site. A resident manager’s apartment is often incorporated into our plans for security purposes as well as an amenity to entice the right project manager to the facility. We also believe that a moving truck with our logo and the property’s address, phone and email address is a strong marketing tool for the property. The truck is a “moving billboard” which advertises our property as people move their belongings or when our employees simply use it to go to the bank or marketing to potential tenants.

Operating a self storage facility is not a static business. It never goes on automatic pilot, even when you reach stabilized occupancy of 85% or 90%. We differentiate ourselves from other operators in this business by constantly reviewing the analytical data from the projects and making changes based upon the changes we see taking place in our market. It doesn’t matter what the industry standard may be or what has worked in the past, we look at what our project and market are telling us they want and make changes to pricing, discount packages, and even reconfigure unit sizes based upon that information. We make frequent surprise “visits” by the owners and head of the management company, periodic audits of the facilities, walk through to check locks and condition of the facilities. We keep up with recent changes and innovations in serving our customers. We try to determine if this is an area that requires additional customer service such as the ability for our office to be used as a shipping center. The Principals of SSZ are never content to pass this analysis on to others but will personally look for other ways to maximize operational results.

For a new development project, Self Storage Zone will formulate and execute the most effective development plan based on current zoning constraints, population characteristics and architectural design options. We will ensure cost savings through value engineering, and analyze market conditions to determine the best overall storage unit mix as well as rent structure based upon market competition. We would look at the related project costs for each alternative to be evaluated and decide the best way to proceed at each stage of the development and operation of the project. We assemble comparable information by researching other self storage projects in the market area of a 3 to 5 mile radius of the project. We determine the best possible mix of unit sizes and rent structure for a steady, rapid absorption of the units. By analyzing the demographics of the project market area, we are able to determine the depth of the residential and commercial storage market as well as to assist in analyzing the appropriate unit mix. We do not ever utter the words “This is how it is done in our industry” as a reason for making a design or operational decision. Each radius market has to be studied as its own small universe to determine what fits best in our projects.

SSZ has benefited from the assemblage of a team of experienced real estate professionals. Self storage today is both a real estate business as well as an operating business. The principals of SSZ have spent their entire professional lives finding the best real estate locations and successfully developing different real estate products on these sites. This expertise has carried over to the self storage industry where it has been proven time and again that the superior sites outperform the mediocre sites in both achieved rent and occupancy. This is SSZ’s business strategy.

The Principals of SSZ


Andrew Czekaj

Stephen Garchik

The Construction and Management

Team of SSZ

Projects Portfolio

Mr. Czekaj, Mr. Garchik, and Ms. Tipton have either acquired, developed or are currently developing the following self storage projects: