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Self-storage: The men who got rich selling empty space

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With the self-storage proving to be a useful innovation and the industry making a healthy profit, you might be left wondering who the founding fathers of the UK self-storage industry are. Every idea has to be new at some point, and that’s where the entrepreneurs come in. There are some people who either have the foresight to take on a gap in the market or who got extremely lucky playing a risk – either way we will be taking a look at a few of the figures who got into the industry before things really took off.

The fruits of the industry have made some of these people into millionaires, so it should be no surprise to learn that the UK now have one of the bestself-storage industries in Europe. What is it that inspired these people and how did they go about realising the potential that they saw?

Rodger DuddingOne of the first and most successful men in the storage industry is Rodger Dudding. His enthusiasm for classic cars – and cars in general – is what led him to take up the unused space in surrounding areas of cities. At first he believed the units that he snapped up would be used for storing people’s cars, but he soon realised that money could be made letting people store other things in his units. Perseverance paid off for Mr Dudding, as he scouted out unwanted buildings early on, waiting for their owners to show up and striking a deal. This eventually paid off as his portfolio of storage units is now worth millions.

The self-storage industry originated in America in the 1960s, and Doug Hampson, in his time spent there, was inspired by the boom that he saw. The gap in the market for Britain was so huge that it wasn’t until the ‘90s that things eventually began to take off. The thing that Mr Hampson claims encouraged him to go forward with the idea in the UK was the fact that there were very few costs involved in such a simple service, reaping huge rewards for what, at the time, seemed like a dull investment.

Finally, we take a look at the three ex-retail property men; Nicholas Vetch, Phillip Burks and James Gibson, who took their experience of the industry and together created their own self-storage company in the 90s. By taking up empty property space at the lowest price possible the trio tapped the market with funding from the cities they were in.

The people in this article became millionaires with an unglamorous investment and have made their money during the boom. Things have settled down within the industry now as most of the space has been taken up by existing companies, and because the public has a plethora of storage options in most of the big cities in the UK, but the next money spinning idea could be just as simple.

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