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Self-storage comes to the Philippines


Banker Celina Martinez-Coronel needed a lot of storage for the documents of her family-owned Insular Rural Bank and other records of their financing business. Fortunately, husband Edgar Coronel (former president of the Cinderella Marketing Corp.) heads his family-owned real estate business, Panorama Development. Since the company leased warehouses in Taguig, it dawned on Coronel and her sons Mark and Carlo to use their warehouse as storage facility.

The brothers picked up the idea from the US. The New York Times quotes the Self Storage Association as saying that one of 10 households rent self-storage units, largely for emotional ties, not wanting to part with their possessions.

Only 18 months in the business, Safehouse Storage Facility is the first of its kind in the Philippines.

“My mother needed to keep old financial statements that needed to be reviewed once in a while,” said Carlo Coronel. “Our compound is full of big-cut warehouses. Since we have a 500-sq m warehouse, we divided it into 30 self-storage units like condo units. And, with the rise in condos, we saw the business potential.”

How does it work?

Clients inquire about the services. He gives them a quotation (P6,500 per month to rent for either a 12-sq m or 15-sq m unit and P7,500 for a 21-sq m unit); the client reviews the sample contract and a unit is reserved.

Other moving-and-storage companies ask their clients to pack their items and put them in lift vans.

Coronel said Safehouse offers the convenience of packing the items (P1,300 per cubic meter), transporting them (P5,000 for a four-wheeler and P5,500 for a six-wheeler) and more important, providing a unit for safekeeping.

Coronel said the market is divided into homeowners who need storage for their furniture and entrepreneurs of micro, small and medium enterprises who need a stockroom for their inventory or a room for their records.

Business clients

The longest tenant is a landlady whose tenant didn’t want to use her furnishing. The landlady has been keeping her objects in Safehouse for a year.

The clientele is “mostly upper class and who have start-up business,” said Coronel. “They can’t afford a big warehouse so they lease small unit for their inventory. It’s a reasonable way to start a business.”

Coronel observed that there’s a big potential for business clients who need to store their records but have no space for such. Plans are afoot to develop a filing system to make it easy for lessees to locate their files.

Safehouse Storage started out with a lean operation of a warehouse man, an assistant and the Coronel brothers. Coronel’s older brother, Mark, handles the administrative side. This year, the company will add units and form a sales team.

In America, the self-storage industry is an indicator not only of the economy but also of the national psyche. The New York Times wrote that the business had its beginnings in the ’60s. Initially up to the ’80s, self-storage facilities received the possessions of people undergoing a life-changing event such as marriage, divorce, death or moving to a new place. The industry experienced a boom when people started started having pied-a-terres or vacation homes and accumulated more possessions through inheritance.

Ultimately the storage industry was fueled by a consumerist culture and people’s penchant for holding on to their possessions for sentimental reasons.

Buying furniture has become a national habit that it has become a commonly stored object. People hoard their furniture while saving for their new homes, or store their old stuff while displaying the new ones so as not to clutter up the house. Despite the recession, self-storage rentals increased as more people lost their homes.

Coronel said that storage is a necessity in the Philippines. While homes are undergoing renovation, the furniture can be parked in the self-storage unit. For inhabitants of compact condominiums, a self-storage unit can absorb their excesses.

To Coronel, Safehouse Storage isn’t just providing a second home for possessions or papers… “People look for service,” he said. “The complicated part is the logistics—coordinating the trucks in bringing the things from the house to the unit. Everything needs to be flawless.”

Safehouse Storage Facility is at 11CCMC Compound, Veterans Center, Taguig; tel. 2119992 or 0917-5102986.

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Tags: Financing business , Insular Rural Bank , Panorama Development , safe-house storage , Self-Storage Association , self-storage industry

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