Jeremiah Boucher started with a dream and made that into a 1.5 million square foot self-storage portfolio of 61 properties in only 7 years. In this Self-Storage University discussion, we review how Jeremiah found and financed his deals, as well as what his thoughts and lessons learned are regarding investing in the self-storage sector.
Hosting this discussion is Frank Rolfe, who has amassed over a $1 billion portfolio of real estate assets – with his partner Dave Reynolds – which includes self-storage holdings. Frank also started with just one property and offers his views on the storage niche.
Jeremiah has achieved this level of success by focusing on the fertile sector of self-storage – suburban and exurban properties which you can buy directly from the original moms and pops – and avoiding the urban, often multi-story properties that are now faced with declining markets, rents, and occupancy.
From 0 To 1.5 Million sq/ft: The Story Jeremiah Boucher - Transcript
Frank Rolfe: One of the fastest growing owners of self-storage in the United States is Jeremiah Boucher, and we're very pleased to have him here to discuss his career so far in the storage industry. And as you can tell by looking at him, there's a long, long career left to go here, but I think we're gonna learn a lot from this discussion, so Jeremiah, it's good to see you. How are you doing?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, good Frank. We've known each other a long time now, huh?
Frank Rolfe: Long, long time. So tell me, how did you get in the storage business? How did you first even think about buying these storage facilities? What went through your mind?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, so I called you and Dave in 2006, right, and I was a kid. I was 25 at the time, I didn't... I lost a bunch of houses, or I was right about to lose a bunch of houses in 2007 and 2008 in Vegas in the crash, and then I had to rebuild. So that's where we had our run, we bought Mobile Home Parks over the years, and along the way, a couple of the owners owned a couple of storage facilities. You guys said, "Go do that on your own." So I went out and bought a couple of storages on my own, and that was... They were pretty rough properties in the middle of Nevada, and another one out up in New Hampshire. But yeah, I wanted to get into storage because I knew how hard it was to manage these Mobile Home Parks with our experience, and I love the asset class, but there was so much deferred maintenance and there was so much management that I said, I wanna diversify and I wanna try this other asset.
Frank Rolfe: Now, tell me about that very first storage. What was ground zero for the story of Jeremiah? What was the very first one you ever did? You don't have to give me the name, but what were the details, how big and how rough...
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, that one was... And it was a creative deal where at the time, I still was struggling to rebuild on my credit from the losses, the pre-closure in '08. But it was an older gentleman who was in his 90s, we bought his Mobile Home Parks, we decided to... He had two storage facilities in the middle of the town, it was this rural town, Northern Nevada, about two hours out of Reno. And it needed a lot of deferred maintenance, it was the CMU block, the concrete block with the older metal roofs, and we went in there and I structured the deal where he was only grossing 10,000 or 11,000 a month at best, and sometimes less. And he wanted 900,000, and this was for 52,000 square feet. So price per foot, it was cheap, it was under 30 bucks a foot. I thought, there's no way I can lose money on this, and then I get in there and I structure the deal where I said, "Hey, I can't buy this asset 'cause there's no cash flow, barely breaks even," I had to pay him. I think it was 4500 a month in interest. And with that, I structured it with no money down. So it was a $900,000 price, no money down, but I committed that I would put $200,000 or more in improvements over the next 12 months.
Jeremiah Boucher: So I saved up some money, I did the improvements, I paved it, I painted it, I lit it, I did the landscaping. I helped fix up the fencing, put some big signage up there, did all these improvements, and then Frank, I could barely get the damn income up. It went to 12,000 or 13,000 a month, so I was like, "I put all this money into this and I'm making a couple... Less than a couple of grand a month on some months," and I'm dealing with this manager, dealing with the mom and pop, just like we did on parks. So I figured out though, my mistake in this market was, there's about 15,000 to 20,000 people on this island of a town in the middle of the desert, and there was three other competitors, three or four larger competitors, or three big competitors. One of them was an older gentleman that he had land to build for days, so he just kept building and building and building, and he never raised his 10x10x55. It was 55 a month, and he would never raise it, so he was making very little profit on his developments, but he loved the business, he had nothing...
Jeremiah Boucher: You've seen these guys, they have nothing better to do, they just wanna put money back into real estate, and I just sat on that for... That asset for seven years, I could not raise the rent, I would fill it up a little more, but I never could raise the rent, and then I don't know if you want the end of this story, but I just...
Frank Rolfe: Yeah, give me the end of story. I'm guessing you sold to the old guy. I don't know where this is going.
Jeremiah Boucher: So yeah. So, the old guy finally finally maxed out his land, he couldn't get any more on there, and we were able to raise our rent just a little bit, but this was right during COVID, so COVID accelerated where people were moving out of some of the larger towns. This town did quite well, it's a mining town, the rents jumped up maybe 20%, and I had it on the market and I finally sold it to a California 1031 buyer doctor, and I got... I made a little bit of money on it. And at the end of the day, I sold it for 1.6 or 1.7, and this was on a $900,000 basis, but I probably had a good 350,000 into improvements over that time, so over a seven-year plan, I did get some cash flow. So overall it was a good asset, but I realized that barriers, if you have someone when there's no barriers to entry, that can be a long road sometimes to raise the revenue.
Frank Rolfe: Got it. So tell me about deal number two. Deal number one was an action story with a happy ending, it sounds kind of terrifying. What was deal number two? What did you do different on number two?
Jeremiah Boucher: Well, number two, the market was much better. This was on the border of Vermont and New Hampshire. And what I figured out is, no one in Vermont... Well, they wouldn't allow a Walmart in Vermont, in this side of Vermont in this town, so everybody would come over to New Hampshire border, and on the surface, it looked like there was only about 8000 people in the population. But then there was another town in Vermont that brought in another 25,000 or 35,000 people. So I bought this small facility, it was 100 units, 15,000 square feet right across from the Walmart, but I had an extra six acres to expand, and this was the bread and butter where I was able to creatively do it as well on this one, 'cause I was, I still didn't have a lot of credit, I didn't have a lot of money, but what I did is I bought the woman's corporation, I bought units, I bought the shares of her company and I bought 20% of the company, and then I fixed the price for about a million bucks for the other 80% of the company, and what I was able to do for that 20%, I put $150,000 down and paid off the debt on the company, and she allowed me to borrow against the asset or against the property itself.
Jeremiah Boucher: I was able to get a $500,000 loan to expand it and double the size, and then I was able... Once we filled it and she helped manage it, she stayed on, I was able to pay her off her additional million dollars that I promised her for her other 80% of her shares, and then that way, I was able to now have a property worth $2 million, and she got her price that she wanted. She wanted to million 150, and I was able to then control the asset. And then that one Frank, that one over time, that's been one of my best assets where my dad thought I was crazy in this tertiary town, a very small... There is an interstate highway exit off of there, but there's a small college, but I bought this, I bought the competitor down the road a few years later, and this owner actually re-invested with me, and then I expanded these two more times, and now this is grossing about $80,000 a month between these two assets that I expanded multiple times.
Frank Rolfe: So Jeremiah, how many storage facilities do you have at this point? How many of these storeys have you got? How many are there?
Jeremiah Boucher: So we have 70 sites, 65 that are operating, and then about five of them that are ground up that we're building in the spring next year, and then probably out of those 65, about 30 of them, there's gonna be some form of expansion or major improvement.
Frank Rolfe: Okay. So on those 68, we haven't discussed, let's just break it down since we could go on for days, if we do it one at a time. Give me an idea on the other ones you have here, first off... How did you find them? Was it through brokers, direct mail, cold calling? Just give me a percentage breakdown, just ballpark on those next 68.
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, you know me, I'm definitely the calling guy, so I called for 10 years on parks and we still do, but seven years ago, I started calling on storages. We have six guys in the office calling. So I'd say 80% of the deals were off-market, calling owners direct, I'd say another 10-15% are the broker relationships in the region, knowing who we are at this stage, and then the other 5-10% is mailers that they called off of mailers.
Frank Rolfe: Gotcha. And with such a significant calling program you do, are there a couple of tricks or something you could share with people, not obviously your secret recipe, but a couple of things people need to know about cold calling since you've been so effective at it for so long?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. It's kind of what you guys taught me in the beginning, it's obviously persistence, and it's very simple. I think for us, the good people that we're calling or mom and pops that wanna, number one, trust you and know that you know what you're doing, so it's a very simple four-part script, and what I mean four parts, very basic, "Hi, this is Jeremiah." And they remember my name after I call them two or three times a year, over three or four years. "Hey, this is Jeremiah. We own storage already in the market or in the region. We're looking to buy some more storage. Are you in the family considering selling down the road?" I mean very, very basic, I'd rather get right to the point. "This is who we are, this is... We already are in the business, and this is what we want. We wanna buy more. Would you ever wanna sell down the road, or you and your family still in the business and are you thinking of selling in the future," and that's it. Really... It took me just filtering out that list, so I know those... I consolidated in the Northeast where my family's from, because not like Parks where we bought all over the country, I needed to know more geographically how this would work, so I really stuck to a region this time and scaled it.
Jeremiah Boucher: 'Cause it was a little more hands-on management on that when you're making the improvements and you're leasing in and out, and I wanted to really understand what I was doing in that. And then I did some deals outside of it down in South Carolina and some in Chicago and there was some nightmare stories, but I caught the market right, and was able to sell them and make some profit.
Frank Rolfe: Okay, how did you finance those next 68? Is it mostly bank, seller financing, conduit financing? How did you do?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, the first two or three or four that I shared with you were owner financing, but then eventually, after I had that good exit on selling a lot of the parks in 2019, my balance sheet looked pretty good, and what I did is I started to build some strong relationships up in New England, and since my father was still there, I was able to open up some depository relationships where I put some money in the bank and I bought some CDs with the banks, and then I borrowed against the CDs, just small consumer lines of credit and I just showed them. I have this one facility, that one I did with that woman where I was able to buy it double the size and then buy her out with the rest of her shares, that kind of showed, okay, he has family in the region, he has a storage already here, and that way he has one over in Nevada, plus I had experience in Mobile Home Parks, so they started to give me a few loans here and there, and these were really credit unions and regional banks, that was the number one. It wasn't any Wells Fargos or Bank of Americas, or no CMBS, and no institutional money.
Frank Rolfe: And your focus has been predominantly suburban and ex-urban market, correct?
Jeremiah Boucher: 100%.
Frank Rolfe: You don't really heading downtown, big city, ugly city, nasty, crime, homeless people, storage, things like you see on TV, hidden behind the tents, you're not into that kind of storage, you're into suburban, ex-urban correct?
Jeremiah Boucher: 100%.
Frank Rolfe: And why did you take that radical shift? 'Cause most people, particularly of your size, their portfolios are often right there in the heart of all the nasty, right in the middle of the city, which we all know became hugely unpopular, starting with COVID and then the riots of 2020 right. Most people are bailing. In fact, a recent thing that was online showing the top 10 markets, people are moving out of each of that was a large city, but you were kind of an early visionary of that. What made you believe suburban and ex-urban was superior to urban?
Jeremiah Boucher: You know what, it was probably all those years working on Mobile Home Parks together, where we looked at... I saw these communities had good services, and what I looked for is kind of what we looked for before, you look at Walmart, Tractor Supply, Dollar General. Is there a good hospital? Is there maybe a university? Is there a few factories or a couple of diverse job markets over there? And if it had that formula and with storage, the one difference though with parks is that you need that visibility, like you really do, if we had some visibility off of a main main street on the main road in the town or on the highway, I just believed in it because I saw these were working class communities that these people, there was not a lot of competition, like these mom and pops got very fat and happy with these assets where they wouldn't pave them, they were mud pits, they were getting older, they wouldn't paint them, they looked dingy and scary, so they weren't running them like a retail business, like a real business.
Jeremiah Boucher: So I really noticed, okay, after I did one or two, I made some minor improvements and then I made it a little more easier where we pick up the phone and help people rent over the phone or offer the app where you can rent online and through the app on DocuSign, and that was just lack of competition where we were just a better product and service in that market, and no one else was there, and then frankly kinda lucked out where everybody, like you said, we already had about 20 assets, 30 assets during COVID, where everybody came out of New York City, Connecticut, a lot of Boston, and they came out in our markets to have a nice work from home, have a big yard, have their kids go to the safe schools, and then we filled right up across the portfolio. So that gave me the confidence to go out and buy more. And then that's how I was able to raise more money and actually grow the business.
Frank Rolfe: And of course Jeremiah, I drive around a lot, I live in a small town, so I live in an ex-urban market about an hour south of St. Louis, and you see self-storage facilities in here, my small town, there's probably seven or eight of them, if not more. But obviously, they're not all created equal, right? You can't just say, ah, any storage facility of me driving down an old two-lane gravel road and you see some old single-story storage things sitting there, that's not really always an opportunity. So give people some basic ideas of how you separate what is an opportunity from what is not an opportunity? Like what makes you cold calling and direct mail, and when the broker calls you? What makes you put it in the box that says, "Jeremiah might be interested," and not the box that is just the box you put all the trash he deals in, what's the difference?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. And right now, I think more than ever, Frank, in the economy, in this economic condition that we're going into, those trashy deals really gotta get filtered out, so if it doesn't have the core fundamentals of a good storage deal. We gotta get rid of it. So the main thing is number one, get rid of the old conversions, the old mills, the old factories that are brick for 100 years old, if you're new to the business, get out of there, that is a ticking time bomb because you have a huge CapEx and those buildings aren't really functional in order for modern storage. So what you really want, if you're starting from scratch, is 30-foot wide buildings, and as long as you wanna be 200 feet long or more, depending on how much snow you get in the area. So if you have a basic template like that and you have about 24 feet between buildings, you got a good template where you have... Ideally, I tell people, you really should stick to where a minimum of 20,000 or 30,000 square feet where you can get to close to 40,000 or 50,000 square feet, kind of like the old days where we did that, at least we had to get up to about 60-70 pads, or it's really hard to make a park work.
Jeremiah Boucher: That's kind of my threshold is where I wanna get at least a 40,000 square feet, bare minimum on a storage, and then what you want is ideally, those metal buildings are pretty solid, if you can paint them rather easily, it's just those metal buildings are good. If they are wooden or you have the shingle roof, you do have more maintenance, you gotta factor that in on that, and now the newer buildings are standing seam roofs, you want the metal standing seam roofs so there's no penetrations. So if it's been built in the last 10 years, that's great, you really want just the newer product. If it's an old product, I mean, if it's not paved, that's fine, but you just wanna make sure that when you go in there, that you factor in all your capital expenditures, because reality is really a perception, your perception is the reality of the assets. So if your mother or grandmother doesn't wanna go there, you really don't want that type of customer, you want it to be a safe, safe asset and something that people that you're gonna pay you to value their stuff in there.
Jeremiah Boucher: So I would say, Frank, we wanna do the basics every single time, put in good signage, put in good paint, you wanna put in the paving, you wanna do all of that, you want the fencing, you want the illusion of security, you want the security cameras, even if people can get in there, it's gonna deter people and you can still have more oversight and better management. But I just have to say, on top of the improvements, having good visibility, having the ability to be about that 40,000 to 50,000 square feet minimum, it comes down to management. And the number one management tool is if you're using an on-site, a small mom and pop manager, or if you're doing it remotely, you gotta pick up the phone, you gotta be helpful, you gotta be knowledgeable. So that's the thing that people skip out on where they don't put the time in to learning the management, and then you have to be able to be a tech-savvy to a degree where you can offer doing a remote leases where you either leave a lock in, free locks and you leave them in the unit and people can grab them or they bring their own locks or you have the lease that they can sign on their phone, DocuSign it, put their credit card in there. You gotta really make it so easy for the customer these days, because they have so many options.
Frank Rolfe: And let's talk for a minute about the technology, because I know obviously the dream of any company in America today is to have new employees 'cause employees are a hotbed of liability, they're hard to get, everyone watching or reading the news every day, knows there's nothing but a continuous batch of negative PR towards the whole idea of hiring people. How autonomous can you make a self-storage facility? In other words, you see it where they say, "Oh yeah, you can run it off of a kiosk." Can you run off a kiosk? What is the future as far as storage and technology and robotics and getting rid of people, and then what is the breaking point as far as what size do you have to have a living, breathing human on the site?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, so I think we're gonna hopscotch the whole kiosk idea because the phone is where it's at. So that's just a big waste of whatever it is $20,000 in CapEx. So we had a few kiosks, we're not into it. So I just share that with the viewers. And then, the future of it, at the end of the day, I think you can do all the actual property management remotely, so leasing units, collections in terms of making calls, you're not physically locking up the unit, you're telling the person that you've locked them out. You try to get them to... You could do leans or you could do all of that through actual online or remote management, but the real challenge is in the maintenance. Nobody's figured it out yet. So you still need to have that physical component, where you're gonna have the guy have to go cut off locks when people won't move. They gotta take pictures to be able to show the stuff that you're gonna lean off in the auction. You gotta be able to sweep out units, sometimes shovel snow, pick up trash. So we still are managing remote employees. And the best thing you can find is just like in the park days, that old handyman, the retiree who wants 20 hours a week, he can go by there and anywhere between 10 and 20 hours, he can go have his continual cleanup and check up on the facility. But it's not there. There's no pure remote management in this model right now.
Frank Rolfe: Is it true, Jeremiah, at one point people were trying to do kiosks that dispensed locks? I mean, isn't that a little wacky? Why would you have something that dispenses locks? I mean, I think maybe people are getting a little misguided on the goal, you think?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, I looked at it, Frank, totally but I would say give the lock away for free. You could buy them 100 locks at three or four bucks a lock. So just provide that as a service in the unit, zip tie some of the units that you're not using and leave some of the other units unzipped tied. And for the most part, no one's gonna bother it. But I think that you can't remote manage in purely. It's just not possible.
Frank Rolfe: What about those roaming iPads on wheels that you see sometimes in stories and commercials? Are those... Do those ever... You see them in storage ads all the time. Is that really the future? Are they gonna actually have people roaming their iPads?
Jeremiah Boucher: No, we know the public. I don't think. As far as I know, the public companies, the big REITs, the big four or five, they don't have them that I know of, and we don't have them. The technology that I see, Frank, probably that's gonna come to market but it's expensive is the Bluetooth locks, just like in multifamily. But it's very pricey right now. The competitors are at $2 or $3 a month per unit. So if you... And sometimes the average unit's only $100 a month, so they're taking 3% right off the top.
Frank Rolfe: Yeah. So, Jeremiah, let's talk a minute about location, 'cause obviously the bulk of your portfolio is in New Hampshire. So somebody watching this is gonna say write down a note. New Hampshire is where you wanna be for storage. But the truth is you're in New Hampshire to some degree because you have a background with New Hampshire, right? Your family is there and such. So are there any parts of America where storage doesn't work? I mean, if we say that New Hampshire does work and then we say, okay, what do we know about New Hampshire? Oh, it's a pretty area. I think it's a blue state, I'm not sure. It borders a lot of other states that you can drive to really fast, right? You can get from New Hampshire to Vermont to Massachusetts as fast as I can get from my small town of Missouri to a McDonald's in a larger city. So where does storage not work and then where does storage work? Well, other than New Hampshire. I mean, in other words, what is there about New Hampshire that can be overlaid to other parts of the United States? And what is there about New Hampshire that can't be that just is a rough place to be in the storage places?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, yeah. And New Hampshire, I mean, we're all... New England in general is kind of our target but you're right, we're consolidated in New Hampshire. And one of the reasons is not only the metrics or the demographics or some of the things, the attributes of the state that I'll share with you, but it's also the evolution of growing your real estate business where you find a good vendor, you find good site work guys, you find good engineer. Like you said, my father has a paving company so I was able to meet other good contractors. And then, I was able to meet good banks. And once I had one relationship with one bank I could meet another bank. So it was more of like that compounding effect where you get good at one thing and then you get another advantage on a lot of other things. So that was the reason why I really consolidated in the region and I needed... My management partner lived there. So I needed someone to actually manage that. I couldn't do it from Las Vegas. But the attributes of the region itself, there's, for me, I like 50-100,000 median income and really like 60-80 is the sweet spot. And we've talked about this before where if the incomes are too low, it's really hard to get decent rents and it's hard for the people to pay.
Jeremiah Boucher: If income's too high, they typically, have a lot of space or they maybe just throw things away. People in that demographic really like to store and they don't really price shop you a whole lot. They're quite reactionary. They have a lot of family moving in and out. They're tight, they're constrained on space. And then the second thing I look at is the cost of housing. So if the housing is over $300,000 and it goes up to $500,000 in certain markets we're in, it's very hard to just go buy or build a garage. I mean, it's expensive. Space everywhere is expensive and more people are subjected to being in apartments or duplexes or having smaller homes. So we like that part of the housing market as well. And then, we look for a couple of different diverse economies where there's drivers, like if there's multiple sources of revenue for jobs in that city or state where you have some universities, you have a lot of tourism from some of the wealthier places, you have some basic manufacturing or some sophisticated manufacturing, you have a skilled workforce, you have some hospitals. To me, it was a lot of different synergies that allowed for people to have the incomes to be able to store.
Jeremiah Boucher: And at the end of the day, underneath it all, all those metrics, all those things added up to we could get $12 or more annual rents and that's what we needed because it cost us about the same price to build in South St. Louis or in the middle of nowhere in Illinois or all the way up in New Hampshire. Those buildings are prefabricated metal buildings that we buy from and they ship them all over the country. So we needed to make sure the rents were high enough that whatever I bought that was gonna be in built and improved, there was a high enough return on investment to do that.
Frank Rolfe: Right. And so, let me ask you this. I know you obviously were around during the 2007, 2008 mortgage crash. And clearly we're heading down there again. I know people don't like talking about it. We had midterm elections. No one wanted to really talk about the fact that at a 7% or 8% residential 30-year fixed mortgage, most people are now stuck in their home, right? If you have a mortgage at 4% and you can't ever get 4% again and if people buy houses based on the most they can afford, that means if you sold your house at the 4%, you can only buy half the house if you were to move, right? So I'm seeing that as a megatrend that will be attractive to storage because people are stuck, right? Let's say you were the head of the family with one kid in the starter home and now things are doing better and your income is up, you'll never be able to sell the starter home. Because what are you gonna do? You're not gonna swap your starter home for another starter home that's twice as much money, right?
Frank Rolfe: So I think people are gonna become basically landlocked and as families grow and people become more affluent, they're still stuck because they can't ditch the house. I know in my small town there was a guy that had a house in Detroit. He was an engineer, moved to Missouri but he could never sell the house in Detroit. And I used to sit with him at volleyball games because his daughter played volleyball with my daughter and it was kind of a sad tale because he was never gonna sell that house. He was stuck with that house forever, right? And as long as he was stuck with the house he had to only rent houses because he couldn't qualify for a mortgage 'cause he was stuck with the big ugly elephant up there in Detroit. So don't you see that kind of as a new mega trade? It hasn't had a lot of discussion because the mortgage rate increases are fairly recent. But don't you think people are going to be somewhat stuck in houses and isn't that gonna increase the demand for storage because they have no other source of room? I mean, you can't just go add on to houses. People think, "Oh, well, you'll just add on a wing." There are coverage ratio issues with cities. Many times the home that is there is grandfathered. It cannot be any larger. Am I crazy or is that one new component of megatrend that people haven't talked much about?
Jeremiah Boucher: You're spot on, Frank. And people, I don't know, they're so short-sighted where they don't even buy a five or $10,000 shed. I mean, they'd rather... They're looking at it month to month where they really don't anticipate. They said I'm gonna get rid of this stuff in a few months or I'm not gonna need it that long. And then it starts turning into 12 months and 24 and then you're there for seven years. And the same goods that they paid for three times. So I agree. I think the thing that people need to be cautious about... And I remember those days, Frank, where everyone thinks real estate is just this cash cow that you just you buy and you make money over the last 10 years, that's how it's been. But in those old days in the mid 2000s, early 2000s, when it peaked out and then it went the other way and you had homes and you couldn't even cover the debt or you were stuck and all you could do is cover that one mortgage 'cause you were the only one left. You couldn't even rent it for what you actually had your payment for it. You're married to it, you're right.
Jeremiah Boucher: So people are gonna be stuck, definitely. And I don't know if they're gonna let them go or not but it will create more demand. But what I'm seeing, Frank and what I'm hearing through all the trade shows, that's why I'm here in Miami at another trade show, that people are very cost conscious, where they're now tightening up their units. They're not spending as much on the units there. And all that over supply, 'cause storage is definitely the flavor in the market right now. That's the biggest enemy of your storage asset or your business is over supply. So if we're talking about markets, if you're in markets where there's no barrier to entry like in Texas or Oklahoma and you can continue to build. Yeah, it'd be great that people need storage. But if more and more storage comes up, you're never gonna... It's a price war. People look at price and convenience. If you're somewhat close to them and it's cheap they're gonna rent there instead of you. So my biggest concern is people bought on very thin margins. They bought at a very high price and now they don't get that revenue growth that everybody thought, it's never gonna end. So there might be a little volatility here. So I think you gotta be very conservative right now if you're gonna buy or build storage 'cause it's just not filling up like it used to.
Frank Rolfe: What's gonna happen, Jeremiah, with all of these urban storage? Let me give you an example. I was in St. Louis a few days ago. And you already seen in St. Louis, the banners going up, rent a unit, first two months free, the guy across the street is the first four months free. I imagine six months from now, it'll be first year free, first decade free, first lifetime free. What will happen to all this urban stuff that people stupidly built? I mean, they built... What was it? It was over... Is that like a billion square feet? Some crazy number that was built all urban, right? So it's all in the city. I see it, you see it, it's all those multi-story things. And they got so loose on their criteria, they're not even in safe locations. Like if you go into St. Louis, on the parts of St. Louis that you'd be afraid to get out of your car, suddenly here is a six story public storage or similar owner new facility.
Frank Rolfe: And you're like, who in the world would use this? Who in the world would drive to this facility on their own free will? And the answer is nobody would ever do that. And clearly they only got it 'cause the lending was free and easy and cheap. And people were like, "Yeah, well, we'll build five and maybe two will fail, but three will be decent." What's gonna happen with that? When will that fallout start happening? And not that I don't think it's something you'd probably buy because if it's on the wrong side of town no one's gonna want it. If you don't feel safe pulling up to the gate, I don't think you're gonna rent a unit there. And clearly they're not. And that's why the banners are all over the thing. But what will happen with all that? When will that blow? And then what will the impact be on the suburban exurban operators who are normal people? How's that all gonna play out?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, and I think why some of that was created was that the asset or the investment actually was created not based on the business it provided to the actual customer. So a town would allow in that... That part of the city is like, "Hey, no one's gonna go here. We'll actually give you the approvals to build storage because what the hell else can we get out here?" So they just built it because it looks good on paper but does it really serve that right demographic and the right really part of the market? And you're right, I'm with you, Frank. I mean, we're completely married to. We love, we fell in love with single story facilities, not too big. I mean, we're not doing 100,000 square feet generally. And you have three, four, 500 units that you can always keep full. People can drive up to it. Even if it's climate control, they can drive up to it and go right down a hallway. They're not going up elevators, going in way in the corner of buildings wedged in to the back.
Jeremiah Boucher: So how that's gonna shake out? It's gonna be interesting because these REITs, they just took a major hit. Their prices dropped again, another 20% or so after the last earnings call in Q3. And I think they're gonna be under some pressure where they can't sustain the growth. COVID bailed everybody out. Where there was just so much demand in that last two years, where revenue growth was unprecedented. It was even at the REIT level, 15% plus a year for multiple years. And now they're gonna have a lot of product that's overbuilt. So we'll see, we'll see. It's gonna soften up the lending a little bit, right? If there's some defaults on storage, it's gonna soften it up and there might be a little more caution out there. But in the meantime, we haven't even seen it hit. So it's a good thesis, Frank. I just, I don't know. That's a deeper philosophical question. Are more and more people gonna come back to cities or are cities going to continue to have a lot of vacancy and they're gonna move to suburban markets?
Frank Rolfe: You're right. Well, I think, Jeremiah, you and I both know that they're not going back to the city, right? Because living outside the city is so much more pleasant than living in the heart of the city. I don't see that demographic changing. I think as a part of post-COVID, the urban rioting period, everything else combined, once you start that cycle, you can't really retract it, right? Because as people are leaving, tax base is eroding, there's less money for city services. So you're never gonna bring it back to life. I mean, it's like trying to turn around a giant flat-boated barge on the Mississippi River. It takes huge amount of effort and time to even make the slightest movement on it. But let me ask you this, as far as the lifestyle of a storage operator and obviously you're a large storage operator. But back when you weren't so large, back when you had a property, a couple properties, how much time do you have to spend managing your properties? Right, I mean, how many hours a week? And I don't mean reading magazines about storage. I'm talking physically, actually having to make a call, look over a spreadsheet. How much time are we talking for someone owning a property today? Like a single facility out of some suburban market.
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. So there's two ways to do that with somebody, right? They can do it the way that we talk about in the very beginning where you self-manage it. Where if you're in a region and you can... Or if you're going to do a remote management model, you're picking up the phone, you're leasing the unit. You are gonna get your collections, you're gonna evict people out of there. That's management. You're doing that yourself and not hiring someone. And then, you're managing the maintenance person that's gonna be there on a part-time basis. So if you're gonna do that, I would allocate... I didn't do that much. I really had a... Each time I hired, the second option there is having a part-time employee or a full-time employee on the site or continually on call and as the manager frequenting the site. And managing the maintenance man themselves. And the second option, I would say it would take you less than five hours a week. But you need to have a decent sized facility where you have, like I said, 40,000 plus square feet. It's gotta bring in at least $30,000 a month or 20,000 to 30,000 a month for you to be able to pay someone enough of a salary that they're gonna do that job for you.
Jeremiah Boucher: And that's gonna be a very easier on your schedule. But if you buy a small facility or you wanna be hands-on yourself, I'd say you have to... It's a good 10-20 hours a week that you're gonna have to focus on that. And you always gotta be on call. You gotta always make sure you pick up the phone. So there's a heavy trade-off if you wanna manage where it's not very intense, it's not demanding. You don't need to be there all day. But you're constantly on call handling small issues.
Frank Rolfe: And Jeremiah, back in the old days, you used to own, was it a wine store or a sandwich shop? You had something in the food industry, right?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, yeah, with some gaming and with a gas station.
Frank Rolfe: Okay, so, and that is a business you could not own actively and hold a day job, right?
Jeremiah Boucher: Oh no.
Frank Rolfe: Because you'd go nuts, right? You couldn't just put somebody into the old gaming gas station, grab a sandwich, Emporium and just say, "Hey, I'll check on you 10 minutes a day, see you later." You come back at the end of the month, the store would be empty 'cause they would have probably had everything either embezzled or stolen, right?
Jeremiah Boucher: 100%.
Frank Rolfe: The gas tank would be on fire, the whole deal. The city inspector would have shut you down already.
Jeremiah Boucher: Oh yeah.
Frank Rolfe: So let's say that's one end of the spectrum of something you cannot do with a day job, right? I think that everyone would agree with that. So can you own a storage facility and have a day job? Is it one or the other, or can you do both?
Jeremiah Boucher: And you're self-managing it?
Frank Rolfe: Well, that's what I was getting to. We were working our way there, yes. But yes, let's start off with the self-managing. Can you self-manage and own a storage? Now, let me put a parameter on that because like, for example, here in my Ice Ball town, I have four storage units, two from one vendor, and then two... So I am a customer of three different storage providers in my little town of 5,000, okay? And two of those three, it is completely just a hobby. And I don't think they have any action at all, and they're very small, right? I think one has 20 units. It's like one building, 10 on each side. And I know that guy doesn't put any time in at all, because they're always full. He has no vacancy. That's the one thing my town shares in all stores. There's no vacancy. You can forget it. People here literally go to other people who have storage units and see if they could pay them or bribe them to give them, because it's almost like a fixed supply.
Jeremiah Boucher: Wow.
Frank Rolfe: Now, just 'cause the town is small and no one ever built a whole lot of storage, right? Okay. The third guy, he sees it, and his is larger, and he sees it as more of a business, but it's not really a fair question for him, because he's a general contractor, so he has an office with the secretary on the location of the storage facility. But what would the parameters be if someone is watching this and says, "Well, I've got a really good job, right? And I don't want to jack with my good job. I'm a doctor/lawyer/CPA/executive." So is it realistic for someone like that to own a storage, and if so, what would the parameters be that they could do that and not screw up their day job?
Jeremiah Boucher: I would say that's a great question, Frank, and to answer that directly to people, no. You do not want to manage it yourself. So just like in the park days, and you've taught tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people how to buy parks, even if you're gonna own the park yourself, you have to hire a dedicated manager and maintenance person. So that is the reality of it. If anyone's going to take the time and energy to invest in this business, you might as well invest in an employee, and they're gonna have to manage that property for you.
Frank Rolfe: Okay. And so, if we need an employee, if we're saying you got to have an employee, some contact person to cut the lock off, to check on the things, to pick up the litter and stuff. How big a storage facility do you have to have to make sense of the numbers? The guy that's got the 20, and it clearly would never work, right? I mean, it would be his entire gross revenue to have an employee. So how big do you have to be? Like what is the minimum size to actually have an employee that you would need to hire?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. I would highly suggest to make it worth your while. I'd say the bare bare minimum is 100 units, and that's even too small, but that's about 15,000 square feet in a rural market. It's about 100 units. But I would say, Frank, really, you got to be at 30, like I said, 30,000, bare minimum 40,000 square feet is ideal or more, 'cause that actually will allow you to exit and sell it, so that the next guy can actually hire a competent manager and be able to run it as well. You're going to get married to it and stuck with it if you're the one that has to run everything. So you want it like bare minimum 20,000 a month is like the very least that that business needs to generate for there to be enough left over, where hopefully you can pay your manager and make $5,000 a month if you pay down some of your debt. I think you've got to be around that 20,000 a month in income.
Frank Rolfe: Okay. Now, let me calibrate that for a minute. So you're saying 40,000 square feet is the gold standard, right?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah.
Frank Rolfe: So that's an acre under roof?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yap.
Frank Rolfe: And if you have an acre under roof, how many acres of land you typically have giving roads and the entry and all that stuff, how many acres is it typically? So if we're looking for an acre under roof, how many acres of land?
Jeremiah Boucher: I'll tell you, I'll be super conservative on this because they're starting to change there with Army Corps of Engineers with the stormwater retention requirements. And you have to make sure you retain your own water and ponds, your stormwater. I would say four acres is safe. You could maybe get it on three acres, but time you do setbacks and you do your roads and you do wide drive aisles and you have a nice unit mix, I would say four acres is really safe.
Frank Rolfe: Okay. So what we're saying is it's about 25% of the landmass has a roof on it. Is that what you are saying for the most part?
Jeremiah Boucher: That's right. That's right. Yeah. And a lot of towns are stopping you at 30.
Frank Rolfe: So then taking what you just said, going back another notch, if you're saying 20,000 is kind of the bare bones to have a manager, so that would be half an acre under roof or about two acres?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. Correct.
Frank Rolfe: Okay. Just trying to calibrate this for people. And how much flexibility do you see in rates? Obviously in the Mobile Home Parks business, there are lots in California that go for 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 a month, but they're usually the anomaly. So what is the typical range of rents that you see in the markets that you serve? What is the highest storage rent in the United States, and then what is the lowest just on average?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. So the highest is in Manhattan, and a 10 by 10 in Manhattan goes for roughly 1000 bucks a month.
Frank Rolfe: And you got to be crazy, right, Jeremiah? Number one, you got to be crazy to live in Manhattan. That's the first thing I'm worried about. And then the second is to pay a thousand a month for what we buy in Missouri here for about 100. Keep going.
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. And the low end, the low, low end I've seen is around, I don't think I've seen cheaper than $45 a month for a 10 by 10, about 40-$45.
Frank Rolfe: Yep. And that makes sense. The cheapest one I have of my big portfolio of four units is $60 a month. So I'm right on one of them meets that criteria.
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. I'd say in the average that the average of where we want to be is I wouldn't go in markets less than about $80 for a 10 by 10. It just gets really hard to make money. I would want to stay right at around $100 to $140. If you are in those markets, that's a really good market where you can generate some good income on the storage that you have.
Frank Rolfe: Alright. And help us solve the whole issue of climate control, Jeremiah. What is... People are always confused, those who are customers, do they need climate control? And I guess, those who own the things, do they need to buy climate control? What's the story on climate control? Where is that at? Is the man gaining, weakening? What's the story on climate control?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yes. A good question. So it's hard to gauge it when you don't have it because a lot of people won't ask for it. But when you have it and they look at the different upgrades and they decide they want to have a safer or cleaner part of their storage for their stuff, they will choose it. So what I've noticed is the magic formula is you need to get at least 30% more on your rate for your climate control unit versus your non-climate control unit. It doesn't justify the cost, one, to heat it and cool it or dehumidify it, and two, to build it. All the extra costs to actually... It adds a good 10-20% cost on your project. So yeah.
Frank Rolfe: What... Go ahead.
Jeremiah Boucher: And you know in the demand side, you know what I noted... And this is me generalizing and from what I've learned in the Northeast and parts of Chicago that we bought in, low-end markets anywhere under 70,000 median income, they don't really want it. They don't wanna pay the extra money and this is all single-story drive-up, where they can drive up and put their stuff into something. Everybody wants to drive up and put it in. They don't... Nobody wants to go in an elevator, and that's just reality. Everyone knows that common sense. And then, anything over about 70,000-80,000 median income, and I'm talking household income, then there's typically a little bit of demand for it, up to 100,000, where they have some nicer things, and there's sometimes some commercial users that need it for document storage.
Frank Rolfe: What do you see, Jeremiah, roughly as expense ratios on facilities today? Is it 30%, 40%? Where do you see, just on average, I know America is a huge place. There's storages that range from 10 units to thousands of units, but just in general what do you think? Where do you think expense ratios stand at?
Jeremiah Boucher: Oh, I know these well, 'cause I look at them a lot. So today we just ran our numbers for last quarter, and we're running across the portfolio. We're at between 32% and 34% on any given quarter.
Frank Rolfe: Got it. And then, where do you see cap rates at right now, roughly, with all of these interest rate shifts? Where do you see the storage cap rates today?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, and on top of that... I'll hit that. And on top of that, the public REITs, but they operate 100,000 square foot facilities, so they have scale. The public storage and extra space, and third quarter of 2022, they ran at about a 26-28% expense ratio, 'cause they have volume. And I would say if you're in a high tax property state, then I would say... And you don't have the economies of scale like we do, and obviously not like the public companies, I would say you need to be closer to the 35-38%, and especially if you have snow plowing. You could be almost as high as 40, if you have a smaller facility around 40,000 square feet with plowing and with high taxes. So that's the range of the expense ratios.
Frank Rolfe: And Jeremiah, going back to the REITs, don't you imagine they also have somewhere in those numbers baked in, maybe on a different line category, a lot of G&A.
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. Right.
Frank Rolfe: Right. I mean, [chuckle] I don't think they're probably running it. I think there may be some allocation issues going on there in the way they do that, perhaps.
Jeremiah Boucher: Maybe.
Frank Rolfe: So Jeremiah, let me ask you this. We've seen the Fed raising the rates up substantially this year in a way no one has seen since Reagan. So I was alive during Reagan. You weren't.
Jeremiah Boucher: I was alive. I was tiny.
Frank Rolfe: I'm think your dad may have been. I'm not sure how old he is, maybe not. So the current interest rate run-up, what do you think? Is it a permanent feature or is it a Fed? I mean, I don't know how the government's gonna be able to pay the TAB. You probably saw the new increase in the 30 trillion of US debt due to Jerome Powell's sudden increase is greater than the entire sum of Social Security and Medicare. So here we are debating Social Security costs, and is it program survivable? And we just jacked that entire cost on our federal debt 'cause we're at $30 trillion, right? We're absolutely out of control, the most debt-ridden country in the world by far. So I don't know how you can maintain the new rates. This I got to see. What are your thoughts? And if you don't think they're permanent, when do you... Just as a guy in the street, when do you see Powell acknowledging we're in a recession and start to drop them again? What are your thoughts on that?
Jeremiah Boucher: Now, as I enter these worlds of more institutional lenders and private equity firms and large institutions with banks and all that, the whole infrastructure around it, we are not... Everyone's looking at the Treasury, the 10-year Treasury, and everyone says they can predict some type of yield curve. Me, as a regular guy, as a business owner that has to operate day to day with the conditions that are given to me we're buckling down for two years. So I pretty much am saying I can't sell anything for the next two years. So if I better be able to have fixed debt in place now, and if I don't, I better lock it in. And we've got it all locked in. And I'd better be able to cover that debt service, 'cause we're not going to be able to sell, 'cause there's no way that you're going to sell at a six cap or a six and a half cap when rates right now, today, are seven to seven and a half at commercial borrowing levels for our storages.
Frank Rolfe: Right. So what do you think cap rates are right now, if that is at seven to seven and a half? What would a cap rate be if someone were to be buying? Eight? Something like that?
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I'd like to know from you, Frank, in the heyday, when the savings and loans crash happened in the late '80 or early '90s, or in the crash of the late '90s there with the dot com stuff, I'm just curious, how long did it take where the economy took a hit, but then real estate values actually reflected that hit? Did it take a year? Did it take six months? Or did it happen immediately?
Frank Rolfe: So you're calling it an old timer knowledge, eh? So we're talking the olden days, going back to the olden days. Okay. Well, what happened back in the olden days was interest rates always ran a typical course of about 6-7%. I mean, the US average from 1776 up through modern times, up through the 2007 crash, was about 7%, 6-7%. And America didn't have that much debt, right? I mean, it's hard for people to imagine today, but back when you take care of Ronald Reagan, the federal deficit, our total debt was under a trillion. Under Clinton, we almost got to parity. We almost got to zero, believe it or not. Clinton, of all people, not that he did it. It was just random luck that the taxes came in and the spending was lower and we were actually a balanced country. And so, you didn't really see much manipulation by the Fed whatsoever because things were very, very steady. If you look up and you can go online and get the readings of interest rates since they first tracked them, which started roughly around the Great Depression, you'll see they're a fixture of normalcy up until the 2007, 2008 Great Recession.
Frank Rolfe: And that's it. Now, the only other blip, if you look at the graph, was that giant rocket ship blip up and then immediately down under Reagan. And I owned a business during that period. And as you said, yeah, you had to put on your seatbelt because when interest rates rose, commercial loans went all the way up to 14, 15%. You couldn't sell. You couldn't do nothing, man. You knew it had to come down. There's no way the country could survive. That's why they did that, right? That was to kill off the Carter inflation. So they had no choice but to take things to draconian levels, knowing it would destroy many people. I mean, I don't know how many millions of Americans ' lives were ruined over that stunt. But he could sustain it, right? That's what made it scary 'cause you had under a trillion of debt.
Frank Rolfe: Today with 30 trillion of debt, the US government has no ability to sustain anything. It needs 0% interest 'cause that's all it can really afford. So what you're seeing right now is really we're in unparalleled times. So I don't have an answer for you of what will happen. I know in my own mind, I think you're going to see a very, very painful recession. And if you wanna survive it, you gotta be on the right side of the curve. And to me, one of the macro parts of the right side of the curve, which makes your portfolio the right side, is suburbs and exurbs. I mean, just abandon the city. I mean, no offense to those who live in the city, but get out of town, get in your car. And if you can still sell your house, drive 30, 40 minutes out of the city and get something there. And so, I think those industries that cater to recession, of which storage is definitely one. Mobile Home Parks do as well. RV Parks are pretty good. But there's so many things that do not, right?
Frank Rolfe: I mean, just recently, the largest office building in Missouri sold for $4 million. 44-story skyscraper. And I'm not talking an old building. It was built in 1985. So it's in mint condition. It is ready to move in. It was owned by Bell Telephone. It's called One Bell Center. You might say, how in the world could a 44-story office building, new construction? What happened? Well, number one, it's in the heart of downtown. No one wants to live in downtown anymore. If you have a business and you have an office, you want an office campus in the suburbs and the exurbs. And the other problem is no one wants office anymore, right? Everyone's moved away and they want to work remotely. No one goes to the office anymore. And so in every recession, there's winners and losers. You want to be in the winner category. That's the key.
Frank Rolfe: If you look at all the great fortunes in American history, they were all created by depressions and disasters. If you look in Germany at the Krupp family, which was the richest family in Germany for... I don't know, a century, where do they make their money? Well, during the Black Plague, they stood on the outsides of town as people were leaving back in the Middle Ages. They would pay, like give them what was equivalent to like $5 for all of their assets, their house, their farm. And so over and over again, people love Depressions. Jay Paul Getty loved Depressions because Depressions are great times to make money, because they're such a broken playing field. Right? I mean, if we hadn't had the 2007 crash, you would not have gotten into storage. Right? And you could have not bought the good buys that you had and you wouldn't have learned the lessons of what you did. So Depressions are really wonderful, although people think I'm nuts for saying that. It's just on what side of the Depression you're on.
Frank Rolfe: If you are on the smart, lucky side of the right side of the curve, then they're fantastic. I mean, suburban home values post-COVID have been amazing. I mean, in my small town, home prices are up at least 50% if not more. So there's always winners. It's not like everyone shares in the unhappiness and the depression. You just want to be on the right side of it, right? So which harkens back to why we have you here talking about Self-Storage, smart Self-Storage, not the idiot urban storage that I see all across America and you just scratch your head and say, "Oh my God, I'm glad I don't have any shares of that REIT because I have no confidence in that stuff at all. I think I'm the total wrong side of megatrends." But on the right side, you got suburban, exurban storage, buying it from moms and pops, good prices, creative deals like you're doing, the ability to fill it, add additional buildings, increase occupancy. That's all the right stuff. That's where you want to be going into the Depression.
Frank Rolfe: So let me ask you on that note, what is the future in your portfolio? What are you doing? How big are you trying to get? I mean, you've gotten from one to 70 in the span of what? How long have you been doing storage?
Jeremiah Boucher: Last four years. I mean, it's been the real...
Frank Rolfe: Last four years, right. So how big are you trying to get? I mean, 700 facilities, 7,000, I mean, are you the next B. Wayne Hughes? I mean, what is the... Explain to me.
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, I think the... Well, I mean, you nailed the business model, Frank. That's really what we're going to do. I think for me, I think we're going to see values dip second quarter next year. I think when rates are in the eights, close to eights or higher, and you know how the cycle is where people do have to sell. I mean, there's conditions in people's lives that they... That the kids will not manage the asset anymore, right? Or the health problems just will not stop and someone has to sell, and that's when brokers will have to lower the prices, get realistic, and those people have to cut the cord and get rid of them. So I think it's gonna take some time. It's gonna take throughout the winter. It's going to take another four to six months before we see those values drop because it's just math. The cap rates just have to go up to cover the debt. So for us, we're scaling back. We were raising a lot of money and I was growing, growing, growing, and I think that was a good time in the economy to do that, but I'm just focusing on the operations. We have a lot of expansion, so we're tightening up our belt and cutting our... Really watching our costs on the construction side.
Jeremiah Boucher: So where I wanna go with it is I think we could talk about it more in the future just how that storage express deal was bought by Extra Space Storage and that was 107 facilities and they're going to try to take on this remote management platform and I'm sure all the other REITs are just with them trying to do it. So I'd say right now, like Ballpark, we're at $300 million of assets under management with debt and with our investors, but I'd like to someday get to a billion. But it just depends. I'm not gonna sacrifice the plan that you just outlined for the growth. So if I'm going to be able to do each of these 50,000 square foot, 60,000 square foot facilities and all these suburban or exurban markets that you call them and just keep going and just like we're popping up franchises or from McDonald's just around the country because I like these cash cows. Once you get in at a good basis and you can get them stabilized there's no reason to sell. It's just hold them and let them run.
Frank Rolfe: Right. But all that being said, Jeremiah, you and I both have stories of things we virtually stole. And I know even in the storage world, when you work with moms and pops, crazy things happen, right? So even though it's maybe not the time to buy in a big way, there's still always stuffed products. Right. I mean, one of my early deals I've still never gotten over was I met the old guy in his house. His wife had died. He was in poor health. He had a 28 space Mobile Home Parks on the side of a lake and just the classiest location imaginable, an actual boat marina in front. He was at lake frontage. He had classy condominiums on both sides. And I went over to his house and it was all really depressing and it was filthy and he was really old and everything else. So he would never even give me a price. And I said, "So what are you thinking?" And he said,"Well, here's the deal. I wouldn't sell it for a penny less than eight." And I thought he was saying $800,000, which would have been about over 30,000 a pad, but maybe not the craziest. And he said instead $80,000, still never gotten over it.
Frank Rolfe: And I was like, "What?" And I didn't want to appear like, "Oh my gosh, you're crazy." So I was like, "Oh, well, gosh, it's kind of high, but I guess we could do it." And then, of course, I couldn't close the thing fast enough 'cause I was afraid someone would have said to him, "Wait a minute, no, it wasn't 80. It was 800," but he just wanted to be done with it, right? He just didn't care. He just, he was sick. He had no heirs. He had no kids. His wife was dead. He was just thinking, "Man, 80 grand, not to have to answer the phone anymore. It's a deal for me." But you must still see that even in storage, right? I don't think every deal out there is bread and butter. Here's the value. Let's do the coverage ratio. So that stuff is still always out there, right? You're always going to be on the hunt for stuff that's undervalued, right? I mean, that's the story of your life.
Jeremiah Boucher: Yeah, 100%. There's deals in every market, every month, every week, yeah, they're there. I think the main thing though, Frank, on storage, what I've noticed at Mobile Home Parks where you can get a good classy 25 unit, 30 unit park and make some money on it if it's at the right location, right demographic, right park, no park-owned homes. What I notice is the viewer needs to be careful getting into the trap of buying that facility that you have near your town where the two, I mean, where you rent from, where the guy has 20 units in one building. I mean, you really don't wanna do it, even if you get it for free. I mean, it's just not gonna... You can't do anything.
Frank Rolfe: Unless you live in the town and it's next door, right? I mean, if you lived in the town and you met the guy at 6:00 PM to sign the lease or get the check, but no, I totally hear what you're saying. But even on bigger stuff.
Jeremiah Boucher: Oh yeah.
Frank Rolfe: I mean, you know how crazy moms and pops are.
Frank Rolfe: Yeah. Yeah. It is. And if you can find something that even if it's a building or two and you got some land and you can get it for a song, I mean, yeah, you're gonna find that. There's a lot of potential out there in this market 'cause it still work. You've got to manage them. And these big companies don't want to deal with these mom and pops in these exurban markets. It's just we are the contrarian, we're the nimble guys out there making things happen in this industry.
Frank Rolfe: Yeah, I totally agree, Jeremiah. We really appreciate you taking the time to be here with us. It's been a fascinating journey in your life, what you've been doing, what you're up to. How you're growing the storage portfolio. A lot of great lessons learned from that. So again, everyone listening, I'm sure is very appreciative of you sharing some truthful knowledge in a world that there's so much stupid, wrong storage information. If you just go online and Google up invest in storage, there's many folks out there that are gonna give you... Take you down the wrong path imaginable, tell you, oh, yeah, you want to be in the middle of the city. Got to have a population of like a million people within a one mile radius, all that nonsense. So it's glad there's people out there who are actually talking about the real, true to way way to make money in the industry and not the fantasy. So we really appreciate you being here for that.
Jeremiah Boucher: The only way you talk, Frank.
Frank Rolfe: And we also appreciate you.
Jeremiah Boucher: That's the only way you...
Frank Rolfe: Okay, well, we also really just also appreciate everyone being here. We know everyone has lots and lots of options with their time. And we're really thankful that you that you cared to spend about an hour with us here talking about the storage industry in America today. So again, this is Frank Rolfe and Jeremiah Boucher as well. Thanks, Jeremiah, for being here. Thanks, everyone, for being here. We'll talk to everyone again soon.
Jeremiah Boucher: Thanks, Frank. See you guys.