With over 25 years in real estate, CEO of Extra Space Storage Joe Margolis knows a thing or two about the industry. He recently joined Matt Slepin, host of the Leading Voices in Real Estate podcast, to talk about the exponential growth of self storage in the past few years.
Slepin is the Founder and Managing Partner of Terra Search Partners, a national executive search firm dedicated to the real estate industry. He is passionate about real estate and how it impacts our economy. Since 2017, he’s hosted the podcast series “Leading Voices in Real Estate,” talking to real estate leaders about how they got where they are in their careers and how they run their businesses.
Here are some excerpts from Margolis’ conversation with Slepin on the importance of valuing people, becoming CEO of Extra Space Storage, changes the company has made over the years, and advice for future leaders in real estate.
People drive our business. Since we were a very small company, our culture has valued people, and we want to attract the best group of diverse teammates we can. We want to treat everyone well, with respect, give them a voice at the table, provide career opportunities, and just be a great place to work.
When you have great people, particularly ones who are dealing with customers, they’ll provide great customer service, and they’ll think of great things to innovate and advance the company. So, people are a very important part of our company and that is especially true now, when many companies are trying to reduce people through technology and go to manager-less stores, and I think that can be overdone. We certainly are seeking efficiencies and want to make sure we use technology to provide our product to our customers. But we are not trying to eliminate the human being from the process because we think the human being is important.
To be honest, it was easier than I thought for a couple of reasons. One, I became the CEO of a really, really well run company that has a lot of long-term employees who are focused on the company first, not on themselves. They were here to help, and not a lot of sharp elbows, if any. So, that made it easy. The second thing is I was smart enough, or clever enough, or lucky enough to know that the worst thing I could do is come in and very quickly try to make a bunch of changes and put my fingerprints on things. So, I came in and moved very slowly and certainly made some changes, but made sure I had consensus and did things slowly and with a soft touch. Finally, I still had the prior CEOs, Ken Wooley and Spencer Kirk, right here to help when I needed it. So, I think those things made the transition easier than it would have otherwise been.
So, the company’s gotten a lot larger and that’s allowed us to do things that were either unsuitable or unavailable for a smaller company. Technology has advanced very, very quickly, and we’ve tried to do everything we can to be at the forefront of that, and I hope we are.
I also think that I’ve brought some innovation and outside thinking to the company. Since I’ve been here, we’ve expanded and done different types of partnerships. We started a bridge loan program. We’ve done structured finance. We’ve entered into triple net leases. We’ve tried to be very innovative on the investment side to match our innovation on the technology side. I think that’s another factor that’s helped us outperform our peers.
Advice for Young People in Real Estate
Never stop learning, never be afraid to ask a question, and take every meeting that’s offered to you. Meet everyone you can. It certainly changed my career when I took a meeting with someone as a favor [Ken Wooley].
Listen to the full recording of Joe Margolis on the “Leading Voices in Real Estate” podcast and other episodes on their website.