Next year I celebrate having worked with the Association in various capacities for 20 years. Professionally and personally the Association and its members are a huge part of my life. It was an honour to be asked to step into the acting CEO role in August this year.
I am struck, and not for the first time, by how lucky we are to be part of this fantastic industry and unique Association.
Together, the members of the SSAA have achieved tremendous thing. It’s almost 25 since this Association held its first official meeting. More than high time to reflect on some past achievements and pause for thought as we contemplate what might be possible as we move forward together.
May 18 1990: A handful of enthusiastic facility operators gather in the Swagman Room at the Hotel Lawson, Ultimo, Sydney and according to the minutes held the ‘inaugural meeting of the proposed Australian Self Storage Association’. Early meetings argued about the proposed name for the Association, how the committee should be structured, which laws might apply to the industry and the desire to emulate the US Self Storage Association.
The first trade show was held at the Hotel Lawson on September 28 1990. Records show that opening night was celebrated in what has become customary style – with a cocktail party. Bright and early the next morning, the steering committee was appointed and the 32 foundation members were welcomed, including Jim Miller, Bob Marsh, Frank Cooney, Richard Whalan, Neville Kennard, Ian Oliver, Lee Cameron and Liz Davies. John Singleton gave the keynote speech “Marketing Self Storage in the 90s”. Other program events included a session entitled “What is your Facility worth?”, a Self Storage Panel, and a presentation intriguingly called “Delinquent Storers and the “Green Bag” Treatment.”
1991: John Nelson from Gadens Ridgeway was engaged to draft a standard agreement. Just 15 clauses long, the agreement allowed the Facility Owner to seize goods if the “hirer” was only 2 weeks overdue with a payment. The Association had accumulated funds of $22,000. Membership doubled to 60, largely thanks to the efforts of the then Secretary Barbara Hart, Liz Davies and Bob Marsh who had begun travelling interstate canvassing new members.
1992 : What was intended to be a national standard storage agreement was altered on legal advice by the Victorian members. Whether all storers should be required to have compulsory insurance for their goods was debated, as was whether or not the Association should set a minimum standard which potential members would have to meet before being accepted into the SSAA.
1993: AGM, 23 September, Canberra. Mark Bateman requested the Association change it’s name to include New Zealand. In a motion moved by Neville Kennard and seconded by Jim Miller, the Association changed its name – effectively immediately – and became The Self Storage Association of Australasia. The Association’s trade journal is known as The Space Report. Queensland members seek assistance – they are being required to pay stamp duty on every agreement they execute with storers.
1994: A young Sam Kennard organises a convention at Manly, by all accounts a roaring success. As the New Zealand market was getting bigger, NZ members are granted their own representation on the Executive Committee. The logo was altered to become the version we are familiar with today. Membership had grown to 110 regular members, and 15 service members. Almost every meeting raises the issue of valuers not understanding the self storage product and how difficult it is to get banks and investors to lend for developments. The first Facility of the Year Award is presented to Suncoast Space Station. The Association’s trade journal changes its name to The Storage Age. A Code of Ethics for members is introduced. A legislative committee is established to draft self storage legislation. Draft legislation was prepared by Trevor Blaney, but ultimately the SSAA elected not to pursue this option.
1995: John Eastwood prepared formal Articles of Association, encompassing matters such as election to the National Executive. Don Seton Wilkinson is appointed as the first paid Executive Officer. The question of whether or not stamp duty will be applied to the storage agreement raises its head again. The Association undertakes its first survey of storage fees for specified space sizes, and publishes the information in The Storage Age. Members work together to secure a discount of credit card merchant fees from the Commonwealth Bank.
In December the SSAA brief Gadens Ridgeway to draft a national standard self storage agreement. The board is keen to establish a single commonly accepted agreement for both Australia and New Zealand. I was a law clerk working with Gadens and was given the exciting task of writing both the agreement and a manual to assist facilities with basic day-to-day legal matters. Members from around Australia and New Zealand provided me with copies of agreements they were currently using. I received around 25 of varying length, standard and indeed validity.
1996: Annual membership certificates for display at member Facilities are introduced, as are SSAA window stickers. The SSSA and MAP were launched at the Annual Convention held at the Hilton on the Park in Melbourne. The NZ standard agreement is launched at the same time, and the NZ MAP follows the next year.
1997: SSAA successfully lobbies WorkCover in NSW and Queensland to change the classification for self storage so members don’t attract a hefty ‘warehousing’ premium. The SSAA develops its first static webpage. A ‘Householders guide to self storage’ pamphlet is produced and available to members – over 52,000 copies are sold.
1998: The Western Australian Stamp Duties office claims stamp duty is payable against the storage agreement. The Association responds on behalf of members and engages in a battle with the WA OSR that is not resolved for a further two years, and not ultimately resolved until the introduction of GST. The first USA ‘study tour’ takes place. Workcover SA is lobbied by the SSAA on behalf of members and concedes it has been classifying its rates incorrectly. The first annual convention to be held in New Zealand takes place in Auckland. Rob Ferguson joins the team and continues to work hard for our NZ members over the next 15 years. The SSAA embraces email, that years’ membership renewal paperwork includes a space for members to provide this information. Storage King opens for business, stepping out with 18 stores. First Almanac is released. A position for a service member is introduced and Robert Coote joins the executive committee. Membership stands at 289.
1999: Mark Bateman, Phil Shaw and I begin work with Standards Australia and subsequently Standards New Zealand to have the Association’s agreement made the ‘Australian and New Zealand Standard’. After many long, useless meetings this proves totally fruitless. Mark and I still laugh about this frustrating venture to this day. There are concerns the Association’s computer may not be Y2K compliant. NSW member has Association’s first ‘win’ with the Standard Agreement. WA held its first regional dinner meeting. The SSAA logo is trademarked.
2000: GST is introduced in Australia. Members only section of website developed. Amendments made to standard storage agreement in regards to GST and refunds. PPSR is launched in NZ, and Association roles out new sell up process and paperwork for NZ members to ensure compliance.
2001: Maxine Poulton becomes executive officer. The Storage Age becomes the now familiar Insider. Vic WorkCover authority recognises self storage with its own rating. Industry challenged in regards to increasing prices as a result of GST and association successfully defends challenge
2002: The Association begins to run optional training sessions for members, kicking off with legal training in November.
2004: Rennie Schafer becomes first ‘outside’ executive officer, and the Association opens its first office. Claire Beattie becomes the Association’s first member’s services officer. Kennards buys Millers.
2005: The SSAA launches the Managed Storage Agreement. SSAA successfully lobbies for lower workcover premiums for members. ACCC investigate alleged price-fixing in self storage but finds no evidence to support complaints. On a personal note, I am awarded my LLM making me the first, and to date only, person in the world to hold a Master of Laws in Self Storage, representing the culmination of over 6 years of research and measuring some 75,000 words.
2006: SSAA launches the Mobile Storage Agreement. Truck and Trailer hire agreements launched. Members start tentatively selling defaulting storer’s goods on EBay. First demand study released.
2007: The Contract for Acceptance of Deliveries is launched. The SSAA buys and moves into its current office at Bundoora. Fort Knox Victoria win national employment award for work life balance. Membership reaches 617.
2008: Launched new agreements for members in Hong Kong and Singapore. Storer Check was launched. SSAA develops valuation standards in conjunction with property institute
2009: Traffic and Parking Study released. Revised MAP for Aust and NZ. SSAA Website revamped. Association celebrates 20 years.
2011: Board changes structure to better reflect industry participation, moving away from regional based representation. Personal Properties Securities Act in Australia introduced, making the most significant change to the sell up process in over a decade.
2013: First Summit held, moving away from traditional convention model for the first time in more than 20 years.
Moving forward, the Association is currently undertaking an update of all legal agreements and the MAP. An employment law hotline has been established in Australia with a New Zealand version in the pipeline. A review of applicable employment awards is underway. Over the next 12 months the SSAA will be releasing standard form workplace policies which members will be able to use in their businesses. The Association is set to release a new Workplace Health and Safety manual to replace the previous WHS guidelines. This will be both for Australian and New Zealand members.
In March, 1991 in a hand typed letter from the then Chairman Frank Cooney to potential members, the benefits of SSAA are promoted as…
“to have an Association to look after their interests, to promote the industry, to develop ethics and standards and represent them in legal and legislative matters…Whether you have 20 spaces in a country town or thousands in a city, you will derive great benefits through associating with others in the same industry”.
I think we have and continue to do just that. Here’s to being part of this terrific Association!