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Brothers see huge business potential of self-storage facility in Phl

Brothers Mark and Carlo Coronel

MANILA, Philippines - Brothers Mark and Carlo are chips off the old block.

With their parents’ core business being leasing out warehouses and buildings they own, the brothers said they “tweaked” the concept and came up with the idea of breaking down some of the vacant spaces in their family’s buildings into small storage spaces – enough for a condominium unit owner to stash extra pieces of furniture or an entrepreneur to store documents or goods.

Mark and Carlo said they believe their parents, Celina Martinez-Coronel and husband Edgar Coronel, would be proud of what they have accomplished. “Specially now that it’s doing well,” Mark added.

Celina needed room to store the documents of her family-owned Insular Rural Bank and their financing business and her need jumpstarted the idea for Safehouse Storage Facility.

Edgar, a former president of Cinderella Marketing Corp., runs his family-owned Panorama Development, a real estate firm that owns the buildings where Mark and Carlo have their storage units.

“We integrated a business and made it our own,” the brothers said.

Mark and Carlo’s firm, Safehouse Storage Facility, offers a range of storage options – the smallest storage space is a “locker” that can store eight balikbayan boxes, while the largest can hold as much as 110 boxes.

Starting with only 16 units in 2010, Mark and Carlo now have 100 units of varying sizes. “They’re very useful for loose items, such as furniture, or pieces of luggage,” Carlo said.

“Our company’s growth has been pretty fast,” Mark said, adding that they plan to double the number of units they offer in the next year or so.

Improving on a concept

According to the firm’s website, their concept of a “personal storage facility” is similar to the self-storage concept in the United States – except that they do not simply leave their clients to transport and store the items.

Safehouse offers a “personalized storage solution,” meaning that they can pack, transport and assist the client store their things in their own private unit.

They have trucks, packaging materials and even storage racks available for clients who need them.

Safehouse can also have a client’s goods insured. Carlo said they outsource this service to Uniguarantee Insurance Brokerage.

Each unit has a rollup door that can be secured with two padlocks. All the units are monitored 24/7 with closed-circuit television surveillance cameras, the Coronel brothers said.

“In the US, there is only one man to check all the units” in a personal storage company, Mark said.

Carlo, 25, a business management graduate from the University of Asia and the Pacific, said their task is to introduce people to the concept of personal storage facilities by going full-blast in marketing the idea to the right people.

Caveat

When asked about what they will allow clients to store in their units, Carlo said there was one client who wanted to store firearms and weapons. “We didn’t allow that. It’s strictly dry goods,” he said.

He said in order to safeguard their facility, they ask clients for necessary permits, and conduct spot-checking of the items brought in for storage.

Carlo said they do not allow “sensitive, illegal materials.” Mark said emphatically, “they have to advise us what they plan” to put in the units.

Plans

Though their branches are all in Taguig City, they are looking to expand to Makati City and set up franchises in Cebu. As for their branch in Building 11 CCMC Compound at the Veterans Center, they have already occupied two floors and are planning to expand to another floor.

They have a second branch at the second floor of the VFP 1 Building, in the same compound.

Mark and Carlo are proud of the fact that they supervised the construction of the storage units and even bought the materials on their own.

They are also exploring the idea of climate-controlled spaces, using air-conditioners and dehumidifiers, to store sensitive furniture, paintings, and media tapes, Mark said.

Carlo said they plan to expand their records management services. “Right now, we just store records, do inventory. We want a full racking system that can handle 50,000 files or more,” he said.

He also said they are planning to convert to a biometric system in the middle of this year, so “only the client can access their unit.”

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