Giving Back To Those Who Need It

Amari was established in 2008 to help relieve the effects of poverty through education, development and welfare programs in developing countries, principally Uganda. The first phase of the project is the education and support of orphaned and vulnerable children. Our aim is to invest in them through quality education and equip each and every child to reach their full potential.

Where is AMARI?
Buliisa District, Northern Uganda.
Pic 2 Amari Pres

Amari employs about 30 staff (teaching, teaching support, grounds and building, social work and administration). All staff are local except for the administrator (a founding director) and a volunteer assisting with curriculum development. They run a child sponsorship programme (currently with 110 children in the programme), 2 Nursery classes and a P1 & P2 class .

Through the generosity of others they have been able to purchase 40 acres of land from the local community and sitting (what does this mean?) family.

This allowed them to develop a master plan for the site which includes:
• 3 classrooms and storerooms, a school kitchen, staff and visitor accommodation
• A bore hole that is used by the organisation and neighbours
• The erection perimeter fencing and gates
• The planting of trees and experimenting with small garden plots
• The installation of a new solar power array wired to the existing buildings

Additionally:
• They set aside money to help with community projects not directly associated with Amari work
• Help with individual emergencies and medical problems
• Contribute to income-generation initiatives

Future plans include:
• Adding a class each year
• Taking on an additional 25-30 sponsored children each year for the new class
• Adding a secondary and boarding school
• Adding a technical school (it is proposed that all Amari students doing secondary school also do at least one technical subject so they obtain practical as well as academic skills)
• Building a children’s clinic
• Building a community hall
• Developing gardens and rearing livestock to help with self-sustainability
• If the need arises, a couple of on site homes for very vulnerable children

Platinum Solar & Amari
In late 2013, Platinum Solar joined forces with the board of Amari to develop and design a ‘stand alone off grid’ solar power solution for the site. These types of systems are the ideal solution for country areas where there is no electricity network like in the Buliisa District. Stand alone solar systems have also been extensively used in harsh conditions in the Australian outback and conditions in Uganda are very similar.

Amari2

The main challenge for the team was sourcing suitable local materials and equipment and the importing of goods into Uganda. As a result, equipment was resourced and manufactured in Australia where possible, and the team used their luggage allowance to bring the goods into the country. They were very lucky that the airline did not enforce the maximum weight allowance as most of them were over the weight limit by 10 to 15 kg!

Stage 1 of the solar farm has now been completed with a 5kW solar power array and a 20kW battery backup bank providing the team at Amari with 24hr electricity. The system can be monitored over the Internet and as such, Platinum Solar staff are able to assist Amari with real-time support from their offices in Australia. The system can generate 25kWh’s each day and at present the school is using only 30-40% of the available energy.

Amari1

This is a huge improvement given there was previously no electricity and the fridges and freezers were running on an old diesel generator. The benefits are many especially in areas like health, safety and security:
• 2 fridges are now connected keeping food fresh
• Each classroom now has at least one light
• Computer equipment is connected
• The local staff can charge their mobiles (they love it)

There are 4 stages currently planned to be implemented over the next ten years. Stage 2 involves doubling the solar array in the existing yard from +5kW to +10kW. This requires a second inverter to be installed in the existing equipment room. It is envisaged that Stage 2 of the project will be built in the next 2 years. Other future plans include the pumping of water from the bore to the school and the installation of security lighting.

Amari3

The school will be expanding rapidly in the years to come and the beauty of this stand alone solar system is that it can continue to grow with the school. Platinum Solar is very pleased to have been in a position donate time, expertise, equipment and hands on work to make this happen. Platinum Solar could not have achieved this without the support of the following sponsors:

Egan National Valuers – www.eganvaluers.com.au
SP Solutions – www.spsol.com.au
Life Ministry Centre – www.lmc.org.au

Contribute to the Solar Power Project
Any assistance large or small is greatly needed and appreciated as we continue to plan for stage 2 of the system and monitor the performance of stage 1.

Go to the AMARI web site: www.amari.org.au to sponsor, donate and get involved.

Tips on Maximizing Storage Unit Space

Even though storage units have quite a bit of space to work with, in most cases you will need to be well-organized if you want to make use of it in the fullest. Without that you will only end up wasting a bunch of useful space that you may use for a number of other items. The following article aims to give you some tips to keep the unit organized as best as possible:

• Packing of unused items
Items that rarely see the light of day should be the first to go in, well-organized in plastic or cardboard boxes. You must make sure you labeled each of your boxes with a full list of the contents to know what’s inside. This will greatly help you in the long run, especially when you need to take things out of storage once in a while. Make sure you keep your heavy boxes on the bottom of your storage unit so they won’t crush anything underneath, but keep the labels facing out so you can see them. Make sure you leave pathways you can work with when you store items.

• Using modular shelving
Using such shelving will allow you to organize things better and make use of the available space you already have in a more optimal way. You should avoid treating the storage space as a closet and think about it more in terms of industrial warehouses or even archives so you can make the process of storage more efficient. Make sure you use metal shelves, as they will have the hardness you need and won’t bend or buckle under the weight of the items. The greatest thing is that you can also use the shelves for unboxed items without making a mess out of things.

• Organization of boxes and items
You should make sure you put the larger and smaller boxes in different locations for easier access. Mixing them together will only make dealing with them much harder, so you would do well to work on organizing things in a more useful way. Store them in different locations for increased efficiency.

• Keep your often used items on hand
Once you have all of your items well packed in the storage unit, you would do well to ensure the belongings will be organized in such ways that your items must be within easy reach. You don’t really need to clear the entire unit out if you want to reach what you need, so make sure you keep things working well.

• Organize smaller items
All smaller items will need special care, so you would do well to keep a plastic cart with wheels and storage drawers if you want to keep them easy to move and reach when you need them. Attach pieces of tape to the drawers to write down the contents or have an inventory list of the possessions you want to store that way. This will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Ella Andrews
Ella Andrews is blogger and freelance writer, who is very passionate about home relocation and self storage projects. She’s been writing about similar topics for a long time, but is also constantly searching for new sources of inspiration. Read more tips at this website.

Spotlight on: Sentinel Self Storage

A family operated business, Sentinel Self Storage have 2 sites, one in Bassendean and one in Maddington WA. The Bassendean site was built in 1992 and has grown from the initial 150 units to 380 totalling approximately 1 hectare of land. The Maddington site is one of the oldest in Perth and is predominantly brick. Situated on a busy main road their distinctive red, black and white signage can’t be missed. With razor wire topping the fence the facilities give the impression of a fortress, one that can’t easily be by-passed.

Sentinel Self Storage 2

As a longstanding SSAA member Sentinel is certainly experienced in ensuring that the facility is secure, and their processes have helped them ensure this well in the past. Retiring operator Ossie Symonds recalls one such example of when a woman who was not a storer tried to enter the facility. Luckily their procedures meant that the storer was contacted – he was extremely grateful that his ex-wife was not given access. This type of encounter is one that many SSAA members encounter regularly and is a good reason why new members should “grab the MAP [Manual of Advice and Procedures] and use it” in order to “do it by the book” according to Ossie.

Sentinel has also found the MAP useful when it comes to selling up procedures. This is one area that seems to be somewhat problematic in Perth particularly as there are only two auctioneers in the city willing to catalog and sell items from storage units. The global economic downturn has also made it difficult to entice auctioneers as on-selling in the current market is quite difficult. Hopefully with the recent results gleaned from the SSAA’s survey on inventory processes (as discussed in previous editions of the Insider) these issues will be a thing of the past.

Recently there have been several significant changes in the Perth self storage industry including less transients and FIFO workers than previously experienced. Another example of such change is that fewer facilities are privately owned; more investors are becoming involved. Nevertheless there will always be a place for experienced and savvy operators such as Ossie Symonds and Andrew and Annette Langdon.

Their skill and knowledge have allowed them to tackle one of the common issues associated with multiple story units – the top-level units being harder to fill – by marketing them as more secure. Sentinel’s complimentary move in trailer and friendly and efficient staff all help to make this a great facility. A fact that has certainly not gone unnoticed by their many long-term customers, one of which they have even turned into an employee!

Sentinel Self Storage 5

The SSAA moving forward

By the time you read this the excitement, over indulgence and (hopefully) respite from the daily routines of work that the festive season offers will be behind us, and we’ll be heading out into a new year. The fresh start provided by the ticking over of the calendar into 2015 it is a good time to pause and consider where we should be heading as an Association.

The SSAA has long provided legal and operational support to members on general day-to-day issues. The standardised storage agreements, the Manual of Advice and Procedure and legal support for tricky storer and storage related issues have long formed the cornerstone of our Association’s services to members.

Excitingly this year, the SSAA will begin to offer support for another important area of our members’ businesses, namely in relation to workplace law. Late last year we employed a new paralegal, Kate Ruhl, to assist me with legal queries from members. Kate makes an excellent addition to our SSAA team, and brings with her extensive employment and workplace legal knowledge. Currently, in addition to assisting with general enquiries, Kate is working on three main projects:
1. a review of the appropriate Award applicable to self storage staff,
2. compiling a new Workplace Health and Safety Manual, and
3. drafting workplace polices for use by SSAA members.

1. Review of awards
The Australian federal Modern Award system has been operating for five years. In more recent years, there has been a distinct move away from reliance on the Miscellaneous Award. This is the Award previously thought the most applicable to self storage office employees. So what does this move away from use of this Award mean for us?

The SSAA distributed a questionnaire to members late last year, asking for details about the tasks a typical employee would engage in over any given working month. Many members responded to this survey, and we thank you for your participation. What has become evident is that there is a huge variety of tasks across different facilities, and it may no longer be practical to argue one self storage employee’s employment conditions are the same as another. Instead, it may be preferable to determine which is the relevant Award through careful consideration of the unique activities of each Facility.

Generally, there are three Awards which could possibly be applicable to self storage staff depending on the tasks they are required to engage in as part of their employment. These are the Clerks Private Sector Award 2010, the Miscellaneous Award 2010 or the General Retail Industry Award 2010. In some very specific instances the Storage Services and Wholesale Award 2010 may also apply, but this will be very unlikely unless your business is engaged primarily in traditional warehousing – this is not the case for almost all of our members.

The SSAA has prepared extensive information on these three primary options, and is happy to supply this research to our Facility Owner members.
As members would no doubt agree, this is an incredibly important issue which we must get absolutely correct. The SSAA has engaged outside counsel to confirm our research. In early 2015 the SSAA will formally advise Facility Owner members of the final outcome of this research and advice.

New Zealand – The employment system in New Zealand is not the same as in Australia. The SSAA has distributed a survey to NZ members in an attempt to establish some statistics on employment conditions, including pay rates. If you have not already done so, I urge you to respond to the questionnaire and assist the SSAA to assist you – without your input we cannot give accurate or meaningful advice. Please note that all responses will be handled confidentially, and identifying details – including size and location of your Facility – will not form part of the SSAA’s report.

2. Compiling a new Work Health and Safety Manual
Kate has expended considerable effort in compiling a new Work Health and Safety Manual to replace the outdated Australian OHS Manual. This 100+ page detailed document outlines the duties owed in the workplace, powers of inspectors, and a number of very detailed guides on specific employment issues, such as a Guide to Dealing with Workplace Bullying and a Guide for Managing Fatigue in the Workplace.
The obligation to provide a safe workplace has far-reaching consequences, including impacting on our sell up procedure. The SSAA is working hard to bring about a new, safer procedure in relation to the undertaking of inventory upon default. Members in Australia and New Zealand are asked to please forward photographs of hazardous items found in defaulting storers’ spaces to provide support to a possible new ‘no inventory of closed boxes and bags’ policy to legal@selfstorage.com.au marked INVENTORY PHOTOS.

The new Work Health and Safety Manual is available from the members’ only section of the SSAA website. If you have not already done so, consider downloading a copy today to ensure you are meeting your legislative obligation to provide a safe workplace.

New Zealand – New workplace safety obligations are also planned for New Zealand. Our New Zealand lawyers will be instructed to provide the SSAA with similar advice for distribution to our members in NZ. This advice and accompanying policy will be released to members via the website.

3. Workplace polices
As many members will know, it is extremely helpful when an issue arises in a workplace to be able to refer to a company’s workplace policy and negotiate a resolution. Policies on leave, dress code, social media use and alcohol and drug use should be in place in every workplace – whether it be in a self storage facility or any of our service members’ workplaces. The SSAA’s new Work Health and Safety Manual includes a number of policies, but the SSAA will be releasing a large number of additional standardised workplace polices over the next twelve months. Members are asked to modify these policies where relevant to ensure they are applicable to their workplaces.

Having a workplace policy in place makes it clear what your expectations are as an employer. Without a workplace policy, you may not be able to manage problematic issues such as harassment, inappropriate dress or comments about your business by staff on social media. Having sensible, fair policies in place makes your expectations clear to staff as well as detailing how your business will respond to challenging workplace situations.

These Workplace policies are being drafted for use in Australia and New Zealand. They manner of including and enforcing them in the employment relationship will differ slightly between the two countries. The SSAA will be providing detailed instructions about how to introduce and enforce workplace policies in your workplace.

Simone Webb use
Simone W B Hill
SSAA CEO & Legal Counsel

New General Manager for Steel Storage Australia

Steel Storage Group is delighted to announce that Stephen Boxall has been appointed as General Manager for Steel Storage Australia, with effect from 12th January 2015. In his new role Stephen will assume complete responsibility for the Group’s Australasian operations and business.

Jon Perrins, Steel Storage Group Executive Chairman:
“Steel Storage is delighted to welcome Stephen to the company. His experience and knowledge from over 20 years in operation and financial roles, the most recent as CEO of a leading commercial construction company will be an invaluable benefit to Steel Storage Australia as we look to continue to improve our service and product offering to self storage operators and investors. It is an exciting time for self storage in this region with the continued growth of this vibrant sector and an exciting time for Steel Storage. The Steel Storage Group has recently sold its European operation and we have relocated our manufacturing plant back to Australia. As a result of the plant relocation the Asian division has been restructured and is now headed by Neil Waterman. Neil and team will help continue to drive the growth of self storage in the Asian region. These recent developments will help us focus and ensure we deliver the best service and product offering including reduced delivery times to our customers and the Australasian self storage industry”.

Stephen Boxall, General Manager Steel Storage Australia:
“I’m delighted to join the industry leader in this vibrant and growing sector and look forward to helping the experienced team already here to continue to innovate and deliver the best in class consultancy services and products. Most of all I look forward to meeting all our customers over the next few months and understand from them what Steel Storage can do to help them achieve their business objectives”

About Steel Storage: Steel Storage through innovation and market investment helps develop the self storage market and provides a full range of consultancy services and self storage specifically designed and manufactured products to all market operators both new entrants and established operators.

www.steelstorage.net

Spotlight on: Store Ur Stuff, Adelaide

Developed under the roof of a vacant warehouse, Store Ur Stuff is centrally located approximately 5km south-west of the Adelaide CBD. It is well positioned on a corner block of a major arterial road and side street, providing customers with flexible entry and exit points. Green, white and black were selected as bold corporate colours and the whole building was painted green to provide a very strong street presence. The facility of 112 ground floor individual lock up steel units was operational from February 2013.

Initial financial analysis indicated the opportunity for a strong return on investment by developing the site as a self storage facility, as well as reducing the risk associated with the alternative option of leasing the property to a single tenant. Early consideration was given to joining an established self storage brand, but the decision was made to develop an independent business, Store Ur Stuff.

Despite the fact that the owners and managers of the facility had no prior experience in the industry, they greatly enjoyed the challenges associated with building a start-up business. “We were impressed by the collaborative nature of the industry, and the strong support provided by the Self Storage Association” says facility manager Jodie Byrne, whose previous experience in the hospitality industry stood her in good stead. Whilst undertaking feasibility analysis, they quickly learnt that self storage is much more than just “unlocking the doors and handing out keys”.

Due to significant occupancy at the end of 2013 Store Ur Stuff converted a number of units to accommodate customer demand, and went on to expand the facility in March 2014 to include a mezzanine level with a goods lift and 46 additional units. A key success factor to the Store Ur Stuff team was to quickly develop customers’ confidence and trust. As a result their business plan focused on customer service, quality policies and procedures and ensuring staff and the facility were well presented.

StoreUrStuff_6-HighRes-a

Store Ur Stuff aim to set themselves apart through:

Consistency:
• All new customers are subject to a stringent sign up process and no customer is allowed to move in without completing this
• Staff are friendly and helpful at all times
• Lock outs for overdue accounts

Keep Learning:
• Regular competitor analysis to benchmark service and price, plus identify opportunities to develop points of difference
• Staff and owners attend regular training and networking events
• Ensure they get the most out of software by working closely with the provider
• Undertake cost/benefit analysis of all marketing initiatives prior to implementation to ensure they present good value/opportunity

Offer support services such as:
• Mail and parcel collection
• On demand offices, meeting room and training room on site
• Assist with all move-in needs

Measure, measure, measure!
• Track the number and source of enquiries received
• Track website traffic and internet searches
• Monitor occupancy on a weekly basis and review this measure as both number of units and square meterage

Target Marketing:
• One size does not fit all. Identify a target market and develop marketing initiatives to suit – domestic or commercial; short-term v long-term storers
• Passing by is a key source of customer enquiries. Ensure the site is well presented at all times as a great first impression is essential.
• Strong focus on maximizing their online presence.
• Using strategic relationship management as an effective customer engagement tool. The manager seeks out suitable businesses, and personally calls on them to make introductions (Aged Care Facilities; Real Estate Agents)

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Stand Out For the Right Reasons:
• Generous standard access hours (6am-8pm 7 days a week).
• Price competitive, but do not consider discounting as a long-term strategy to grow business
• Electronic gates with pin code entry
• 24 hours recorded CCTV surveillance with all footage displayed on the visible TV screens in reception area
• Alarmed security monitoring
• Motion sensor and electronic lighting
• Regular audits of the facility including lock integrity checks
• Online booking system
• Merchandise for sale in store and online

The Store Ur Stuff team recognize that “self storage is a ‘grudge’ buy for customers, so we want to make each and every customer experience a positive one”.