25 April 2018
In the Year of the Woman, the entrepreneurial female founder of The Storage Pod celebrates ten years in business
Linda Conway founded The Storage Pod ten years ago with a vision to create a storage solution that was different from the dark, dingy warehouse units that were typical in the industry. Somewhere bright, inviting – a place you would want to keep your prized goods and possessions – and where bespoke solutions and the personal touch were at the forefront of the offering.
Linda looks back at the last ten years.
“Since childhood, I had always dreamed of starting a business. I was fascinated with all aspects of creating and running a company and regularly bored my friends senseless with countless ideas for new products and companies.
“At age 30, I was working on the trading floor of a bank in London and beginning to realise that I was unlikely to invent the next Google, or find a cure for cancer. Rather than attempting something completely new, I began to research industries with healthy growth and interesting prospects.
“The storage industry caught my attention. It was much more developed in Australia and the US than Britain, and as I learned about the business it became clear there was a need for a new operator.
“Most home-moves are managed by women, but the storage industry seemed to be stuck in the 1960s and felt very unwelcoming to women. Many of the stores I visited were dirty and old; some even had timer-switches on the lights so you could be trapped in your unit in the dark.
“Storage is about providing space for your most precious items and inventory, so the space, the lighting, and the friendliness of the store team really matters. I decided that a green theme with an organic peapod design was about as far from a dirty square warehouse as possible and The Storage Pod was born.
“Searching for the right property was the most challenging part of starting the business, but I knew we had found a home when the incredible warehouse we occupy in Brooklands came on the market for sale in 2007.
“The site has rich aviation history, and the actual building we occupy was an aircraft hangar from the 1930’s. It’s fairly unusual to find a 16 meter warehouse inside the M25, so the scale of what we could build here was immense. We broke ground in November 2007 and opened our doors in May 2008….4 months before Lehman Brothers bank collapsed.
“The largest bankruptcy in history sent shock waves through the world’s financial systems and the housing market in Britain seemed to go into cryogenic freeze. We had expected households to be our core customer type but found that instead, local businesses began to seek us out.
“The Weybridge area is home to many international corporates and small start-ups who used our flexible storage to help them manage inventory through the year. Rather than be trapped in multi-year contracts for space they only required for a few months, many companies found the ability to flex their size and cost on a monthly basis was far more helpful.
“Meanwhile, families of all sizes found that despite being unable to sell their homes, life moved on, and The Storage Pod could help them adapt to their changing circumstances. When the young couple in the 2 bed flat learned that a baby was on the way, the contents of that second bedroom came to us for a few months. When the elderly couple had to postpone a move to the South coast, they decided that expanding the ground floor would make their home more liveable, and used us to store their belongings while work too place.
“This May, we celebrate 10 years of serving the Weybridge and Surrey area. Our store manager has been with us since the day we opened, and our GM Lionel, for 8 years. When a previous customer returns – as they often do – they’re delighted to see Toni and Lionel behind the desk, still making the best coffees in Brooklands.
“Over and over, the majority of new customers are referrals from those who’ve been with us in the past. Thank you Weybridge, for so many years of sharing your lives and businesses with us. Here’s to the next decade!”
You can join in the birthday celebrations with us this May. Find out more about our Pod Party and special birthday month storage offer.