August 16, 2012 6:29 PM
The Great Depression. Unemployment was out-of-control. Banks failed. Businesses failed. Drought and huge dust storms hammered the agricultural belt. People lost their homes and were forced to live in makeshift shantytowns called Hoovervilles. People scavenged in garbage cans for food. Life was bleak. Life was hard.
That was the backdrop for the growing-up years of a man, Derrel Ridenour, who built his personal empire in the self storage business.
Born in Missouri, Derrel Ridenour moved to California as a teenager. Because of the bleak financial times, he knew that if he was going to avoid a life of poverty he had to find a way to earn money.
After high school, he studied welding at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Using the welding skills that he developed, he started an ornamental metal supply company. That company evolved into Staircraft that developed a quick and cheap way to build stairs for apartment complexes.
In the early 1960s, Ridenour purchased a piece of property. He had his son build a fence around it. They rented out space to local contractors who needed space to store their building supplies and equipment.
He added a storage building on the property for the contractors. Soon, he found that homeowners were renting space to store their belongings while they were in the process of moving.
When he saw a self storage competitor’s new facility quickly fill, he and his son realized that there was a need for storage facilities. This was an opportunity that was ripe for the taking. So, in their down time, the Staircraft employees built self storage buildings.
Then, in the 1970s, Ridenour left the stair-building business. He partnered with his son and together focused their energy on the self storage industry. Together, they created Derrel’s Mini Storage. Today, Derrel’s Mini Storage has 56 locations all the way from Bakersfield to Sacramento.
Yesterday Mr. Ridenour passed away. He was 88 years old.
We’d like to take a moment to honor him, his productiveness, his hard work, and his business acumen. For the past 48 years, Derrel’s name has become synonymous with storage. His philosophy that he established years ago remains the same today: be a good neighbor.
He left behind a legacy and work ethic that will be hard for others to compete with. Mr. Ridenour, we salute you.
“Derrel’s Mini Storage founder dies at 88.” Fresno Bee; 16 August 2012.
“A Short History of the Great Depression.” New York Times; 16 August 2012.
Derrel’s Mini Storage.