Ottawa-based DYMON, a real estate development company, has elevated the self-storage model to a new level with its state-of-the-art massive 500,000-square-foot location in Etobicoke, which recently opened.
The Etobicoke facility with more than 3,000 storage units is the biggest in the world, said Stephen Creighton, Senior Vice President, DYMON Group of Companies, and includes features such as a co-working space, wine storage units and a huge retail space of about 10,000 square feet.
He describes what the company does for self-storage as the Ritz Carlton approach with a focus on guest experience but at a very reasonable price.
In the first quarter of this year, two new ancillary brands will launch at the Etobicoke site – DYMON Work Refined, an elevated co-working brand, and DYMON Wine Cellar, a luxurious membership-based wine storage cellar and lounge.
The number of wine storage units planned are 368 in total – holding over 90,000 individual bottles plus an additional 8,000 cases of wine. Total square footage of the co-working space will be 24,938 square feet.
The first DYMON storage facility was launched in 2006 in Ottawa. The company has 11 storage facilities currently open and in operation – nine in Ottawa, one in Brampton and the Etobicoke location.
The 11 locations comprise in excess of two million square feet in total.
“Self-storage is not a new concept. It’s been around for a long time. It had its genesis in the southern U.S. in the 1950s and it developed over time. And it’s most recognizable as single storey buildings with garage doors, chain link fence usually attached to highways or located in industrial parks or rural areas. That was sort of the model,” said Creighton. “There was no security of any nature generally. There were no humidity and climate controls. Very limited hour access.
“Over time there have been improvements in the operating model. There are better quality facilities being built and DYMON had an eclectic background in terms of real estate development. We built office buildings. We built industrial buildings. We built assisted living retirement homes. And we looked with a lot of interest in the self-storage industry because with its genesis in the U.S. and with our belief that over the course of time Canadian consumption patterns are very similar to the Americans. There’s about nine square feet per capita of self-storage in the U.S. But significantly less than two square feet per capita in Canada.
“We saw an opportunity in the industry but like we’ve done, and how we’ve been successful in the past with our real estate development is we don’t like to build a model or a product that’s the same as everybody else. We like to disrupt the markets we’re in. We like to offer a differentiated product with unique services and we like to really focus on the customer experience. We adapted a hospitality approach. We call our customers guests and we do everything we can do to serve them.”
So the DYMON facilities are very large relative to the competition with an average of about 140,000 square feet. Humidity and climate controls protect items from the elements as well as bugs, vermin, mould, and fungus. High-end security is in place with a central command centre that monitors the facilities 24/7. There are extended retail hours with people in them 13 hours a day Monday to Friday and nine hours on Saturday and Sunday. They also have a free truck and driver, a moving and logistics division, on-site shredding services, luxury board rooms and meeting rooms, mail box service, safety deposit boxes, parcel delivery services.
“Most people think that self-storage is just for residential users. But we’re trending now that about 40 per cent of our guests are actually businesses and 60 per cent are residential,” said Creighton.
“We’re out there to try and really service a guest in an industry that really hasn’t focused much on the guest. We’ve had record sales in Ottawa. We just opened our ninth location in Ottawa at Lincoln Fields on Carling Avenue which is a major thoroughfare. And we had the fastest fill in the industry. We stabilized in less than four months and we had 1100 units. Frankly, we can’t build them fast enough in the city of Ottawa.
“We have four other projects under way now under construction in Ottawa. And we have 15 other sites in the GTR (Greater Toronto Region) that we are working on right now and our plan is to build about 15 million square feet over the next seven years between Ottawa and the Greater Toronto Region.”
Creighton said the Etobicoke facility is the latest and greatest offering in the company’s portfolio. The wine storage aspect of the facility will include a private member’s lounge with wine tasting rooms, a bar that members can invite guests over, a meeting room that can be used for dining and a full-time sommelier on staff.
The wine storage area can take deliveries on people’s wines. DYMON will also deliver wine to customers’ homes.
“It’s very, very upscale. Very unique. It’s another way where we’ve disrupted the market and we’re doing something very unique for the guests,” said Creighton.
“We became the largest retailer in Ottawa of moving and packing supplies, but with the launch of our retail superstores, we decided to enhance our retail offering and now boast over 2,500 speciality products. We now have home décor and organizational products for everything from your office, bath, bedroom, living room, garage and kitchen.”
DYMON also now sells custom closet solutions for homes and businesses.