In 2022, Extra Space Storage expanded its urban storage solutions through the strategic acquisition of Bargold Storage Systems, a New York-based company specializing in providing storage space within apartment and condominium buildings. Some months later, Nick Esteves took on the role of overseeing this new addition to the Extra Space Storage family of brands. Nick brings a unique perspective to this role, shaped by his years of experience in multi-unit management and a people-first leadership philosophy. We asked him to share some insights from his career.
How long have you been with Extra Space?
I joined Extra Space in 2015 as a District Manager. I believe it was my first week of training that we internally announced the Smart Stop acquisition—so jokingly, I like to think I somehow contributed to that! In the time since I started, I have overseen sites in northern New Jersey, Upstate New York, Connecticut, and even Massachusetts for a bit. At one point, I had sites in all four of those states simultaneously. We eventually realigned at the beginning of 2020, and I reported to District Vice President Bob Parisi. While 2020 provided some unique challenges, working with Bob was an amazing opportunity to learn to view things from a different perspective.
How did your career path lead you to Extra Space?
Wow, so most of my career growth and development took place at GameStop, which I’m sure you’ve heard of after the crazy news cycle in 2021 and the ridiculous number of memes that came from that. I originally started with Electronics Boutique in 1998 before they merged with GameStop. I worked my way from a seasonal part-time employee through every position along the way to District Manager. One of the things I learned on that journey was that people are the most important asset, and the more you empower them and trust them, the more they will exceed your expectations. You can push or incentivize for results, but that only lasts so long. If you teach someone why what they do is important and how to own the results they deliver, they will continue to drive results intrinsically for years to come. Over time, GameStop’s growth led to an increasing focus on performance, overshadowing the importance of its people. This shift resulted in a decline in empathy and a preference for ‘rack-and-stack’ methods over skill development. Consequently, employees faced longer hours, all of which ultimately culminated in the erosion of the company’s culture.
That brings me back to the question of what led me to Extra Space. Eventually, I realized the importance of being in a place where I could lead in a way that resonates with me and where people are treated with respect. Having witnessed the impact of unchecked rapid growth on a company’s culture, I bring a unique perspective. This insight, combined with Extra Spaces’ impressive growth trajectory, is what led me to this opportunity.
What do you like most about your current position?
I enjoy the amount of innovation that is required. When I accepted the position to oversee Bargold, I didn’t know what to expect. The concept of a company specializing in installing storage units exclusively in apartment building basements for resident use was intriguing yet unfamiliar. However, what I discovered was a team of incredibly talented individuals pushing the boundaries of traditional storage solutions. Challenging conventional thinking has always been something I enjoy. I’m sure anyone who has worked for me would attest to that. And now we’re constantly innovating and trying new things that we don’t necessarily have a playbook for. I learn something new every day, because we’re trying something new almost every day. Although stressful at times, it’s been a lot of fun and rewarding.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
With so many great leaders throughout my career, it isn’t easy to single out just one thing. I think everything we do starts with work ethic, and that was instilled in me at an early age. When I was much younger, my father would say, “You can’t just work smarter or harder—you have to do both.” I’ve carried that advice with me ever since. He also believed if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re either wrong or you’re in the wrong room. That echoes Joe Margolis’ quote, “None of us is as smart as all of us,” emphasizing the power of collective wisdom.
What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your career?
The “Aha” moments—those instances when someone truly grasps what you’re teaching—are the most fulfilling. Witnessing someone start a journey of self-development, make independent decisions, and take responsibility for the outcomes is incredibly rewarding. And that’s not just limited to work. Anytime someone starts realizing what they’re capable of is the most rewarding feeling.
What advice would you give to future leaders?
I said it before, but people are the most important thing. If you focus on inspiring and empowering them, they will always rise to the occasion. True leaders celebrate and acknowledge others in good times, and in challenging times, they look inward, take responsibility for results, and safeguard their people.
Looking to grow and advance your career? Check out our careers page to learn more about leadership opportunities and other job openings.