In 1992 Atlanta was a very busy place, especially in the storage world. We all still called them mini warehouses back then and they were sprouting up with more regularity all the time. Bankers were not familiar with this asset class and lots of lunches were held with them to explain “self storage” and how valuable the assets were.
One day, Barry McWhirter and Harty Kilgore called to schedule a meeting with me at my condo in Smyrna. Both were clients of mine at The Marketing Solution, a real estate marketing company I owned with offices on Windy Hill. Harty already owned a few mini warehouses for which we did training, direct mail and yellow page ad layouts. Barry’s company, McWhirter Realty I believe at that time, focused mainly on commercial real estate and he had developed a few storage properties here in Atlanta for Public Storage as well.
When they arrived they wanted me to assist in starting an association. Barry McWhirter recalls, “I remember Harty suggesting that we start an owners association to discuss the issues facing us in an overbuilt storage market back in the mid 80’s, (how appropriate to revisit this in our current state of market). If I recall, he said he knew the perfect person to take charge – you. I believe we met, and the three of us came up with the idea. Shortly thereafter we started meeting with just a few owners and met at different places. One of the more memorable meetings I recall was having the meeting at Perimeter Marriott with Dean Jernigan presenting his Storage USA concept. I don’t believe any of us thought the storage world would evolve to where it is today.”
Thus the Georgia Storage Owners Society – GSOS was begun. We mailed out meeting notices to all the Georgia storage owners and facilities we could find and started having monthly meetings the first Tuesday each month. Sometimes at 7:30 AM in the bar of the old Ramada hotel that used to sit on Cotillion Drive in Dunwoody at I-285, it is now a mid rise condo property. From those morning meetings we evolved to lunch meetings at that same hotel. A speaker would be invited to come enlighten us and we tracked development on a map handed out at the meetings each month.