While the stone pillars and black metal gates may resemble a gated community, a new business on Highway 371 is looking for clients who want storage with a difference.
Lake Region Storage offers climate-controlled buildings, covered drive-through for cold storage units and security with surveillance cameras, personal identification numbers and on-site management.
Owner Charles McQuinn said theft has been an issue with traditional mini-storage facilities, but he said: "There is a lot more to this place than just the security. ... Above and beyond traditional storage we offer a cadre of services as well."
In addition to an on-site office and manager and a small bank of surveillance monitors behind the desk, Lake Region Storage has services to help people move. Trailers, 6 feet by 12 feet, are available for rent and one of the sizes is provided free for four hours when a customer rents a storage unit. The office also has packing materials for sale.
Beyond those basics, the facility provides a pick up and delivery service. Larger trailers may be dropped off and once loaded by the client will be moved by the company to the individual's storage facility for client unloading. Should customers need it, Lake Region Storage will assist them in arranging moving services.
Lake Region Storage owner Charles McQuinn, CMA Management CEO, demonstrated the personal identification number gate access. Tiny cameras at the gate record the driver's face and the vehicle's plate to document entry.
McQuinn said call-in services also allow a customer from Minneapolis to phone ahead and ask for snowmobiles in the storage facilities to be delivered to his or her yard and then have them picked up again for return to storage. The charge is $1 a mile.
The facility had its first renter in May, but officially opened in June. Midwest Security installed the California-based Digitech Security system. Motion detectors set off digital recorders. Beyond the facility's security, each storage unit also has its own alarm. McQuinn said they spent $75,000 on the security system. It is not just a facade of TVs, he said. An additional keypad in the climate-controlled building provides double security.
Lake Region Storage has 415 units in an 80,000 square-foot facility. There are 165 climate-controlled units. Heated and air-conditioned depending on the season, the climate-controlled units are designed for record quality paper storage. The temperature and humidity control may also appeal to those storing furniture or antiques. Cushions and mattresses in cold storage during a winter season can freeze and contain mold or mildew-inspiring moisture during the spring thaw.
A small bank of monitors behind Gene Farone, Lake Region Storage on-site manager, provides a view from security cameras throughout the facility. (Dispatch Photos by Renee Richardson)
Target customers for the record storage includes doctors and lawyers who can then free up space in their own offices. The climate-controlled building has a vehicle port so individuals may drive in and use carts to move items all in 60-degree temperatures. Lights turn on with motion detectors.
McQuinn said customers are encouraged to plan a move in terms of what they are storing. Bikes and appliances may use a cold storage unit while furniture is placed in a climate-controlled environment. A 5-foot by 10-foot cold storage unit is $40 per month while the same size for climate control is $48 per month.
A basic mini-storage unit, 10 feet by 20 feet, is $90 per month. The same size in the climate-controlled units cost $146 per month. Lake Region Storage has a variety of sizes, including units large enough to drive a trailer, boat or RV through one side and exit through the other.
Farone said target customers may include contractors or regional distributors who need more space. Farone said they are willing to put up shelves the customer may need inside the storage unit. The units may have individual meters hooked up allowing customers to store a RV without winterizing it, control their own thermostat and then pay their own heat bill.
McQuinn said this type of storage facility got its start in Texas because of extreme heat but not a lot of them existed in the Midwest. When McQuinn was looking for a business venture, he researched the market for several options, including Krispy Kreme doughnuts and apartment buildings.
"There was nothing like this here," he said of the storage business. Now McQuinn has another facility, similar in concept but larger is now going into Duluth.
McQuinn owns a larger piece of land beyond the storage facility that extends toward the Pine Beach Road. He said he fell in love with the property but other development plans are probably four to five years in the future.
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