Entrepreneurs Take The Load Off Self-Storage With On-Demand Hauling

By Cheryl Hall The Dallas Morning News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Callbox Storage" crews will pick up, load and deliver your furniture and storage boxes to the company's secured, climate-controlled storage facility. The best part is that the customer receives a digital photo inventory of the stored property so that when you want something back, you can log into your account, click on the item and have it delivered back to you in 48 hours.

DALLAS

We are a nation of pack rats. One in every 10 American households rents self-storage space for extra stuff.

But there are plenty of hassles in the typical experience. You have to load up and haul your belongings to a storage facility.

After you've stowed your boxes, you have no clue what's in them. And there's the factor of packing away something you really do need.

Kyle Bainter and Dan Slaven believe they've got solutions to these aggravations.

Six months ago, they launched Callbox Storage, which they refer to as "offsite storage," since there's not much "self" to it.

Callbox crews load furniture and boxes and deliver them to the company's secured, climate-controlled storage facility in Grapevine, Texas.

Owners have a digital photo inventory of their property so that when they want something back, they can log into their accounts, click on the item and have it delivered home in 48 hours.

These days, Bainter and Slaven are reveling in the post-holiday ramp-up as people resolve to clear the clutter in the new year.

Homeowners in Highland Park had a Callbox crew come to their house to cart off their 9-foot Christmas tree, boxed decorations and a lifesize outdoor nativity scene, enough to fill a small apartment or a typical 10-foot by 10-foot storage unit.

The homeowners can get it all back for no additional cost in time to set their holiday stage next season. Or if they want a few items returned before then, they can get one free delivery of up to five normal-size items every month. All it takes is a click on their smart device or computer.

The service is factored into their $178 in monthly rent. That's comparable to prevailing rates that I found offered online locally by the big national self-storage companies.

Most people rent storage within 7 miles of their homes, Slaven says.

"Since we're going to the customer, the marketing radius is essentially irrelevant," he said.. "If they're in Dallas, Fort Worth, Rowlett, Denton or southern McKinney, we can service them because we have a centralized location in Grapevine. We're exchanging real estate for service."

Instead of renting a storage unit, customers pay for the space their items take up. A 2-foot by 2-foot "cubby" costs $18 a month. Need enough storage for the contents of a three-bedroom home and garage? That'll set you back $486 a month.

Bainter and Slavenwork together at Silverado Interests, a Dallas-based real estate investment company founded by Slaven and his father. Bainter is its director of accounting and finance.

Bainter came up with the concept a year ago when he and his wife were remodeling their home before the birth of their first child. Faced with spending an entire day going back and forth, loading and unloading, Bainter decided to sell his stuff.

"I realized that self-storage was an awful process," he said. "I woke up at 3 o'clock one Saturday morning, light bulbs are going off. I threw together a model on a way that we could make it work better."

Bainter, Slaven and four friends kicked in $300,000 to see if the idea could be turned into a business. Once they were convinced that it could be, they raised $1.5 million from a group of private investors.

Armed with that capital, Bainter and Slaven, who don't hold titles other than co-founders, hired two consultants to help with logistics and technology. One ran Target's U.S. logistics operations for 10 years before launching home delivery for Select Comfort Co., which makes Sleep Number beds. The other has done extensive work for FedEx and UPS.

The name, brand and web design were developed by More Simple, a branding and design studio in Dallas.

Friends and family who live primarily in the Park Cities were the test pilots.

After a month of working out the system kinks, Bainter and Slaven introduced Callbox to the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

"Our month-over-month revenue has increased by more than 50 percent every month," Bainter said.

Kyle Dixon, a principal with Boyd, Shackelford & Barnett Insurance, decided to avoid the pain of self-moving by becoming a Callbox customer in October. Since then, he's had Callbox come back to pick up additional belongings.

"It has been super easy," he said. "They come, take pictures of the stuff and haul it off. I don't have to do anything but call them to set up a pickup or drop-off time. We don't lift a finger, and the cost seems comparable for what we'd pay for a unit around Dallas."

Slaven said the company's ripest opportunities are baby boomers transitioning into senior living communities and short-on-space apartment dwellers.

But there are also commercial applications. Callbox is working with the LaSalle Group to store its furniture, fixtures and equipment during construction and development of memory care assisted-living communities around the country.

"They may not sound unusual, but they are," said Rita Hendricks, director of design for LaSalle. "We order over 1,350 items for our new communities and ship them all to Callbox. Sometimes we need to pull five items. Callbox has the technology to find the items fast and get them to us anywhere in the United States. I call it finding a needle in a haystack."

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