Gather Enough Acorns, Add Solar Power and You Have a Great Self Storage Business
The story about how Acorn Self
Storage in Pittsburg and Brentwood, California, got its name not only shows the
fun side of its owners, but the savvy side of one of their mothers. When Julie
and Jim Moita were opening their Pittsburg facility in 1997, they chose the
name Acorn Self Storage because they liked the image of happy squirrels safely
storing their acorns for winter. When they ran the idea by Jim’s mom, she not
only liked the catchy name, but also the fact that it started with an "A,” thus
assuring it would be listed early among self storage facilities in the area.
What makes Jim and Julie special
in self storage, and the CSSA’s Members of the Month for October, is that they put
a premium on running top-quality facilties with employees who truly care about
customers. The Moitas also believe in giving to special causes and finding ways
to improve the self storage industry in California. Oh, and they also are huge
supporters of solar energy to help power their sites.
"I believe the future is very
bright indeed for the self storage industry because over time more owners will
use the sun as a resource here in the Golden State and beyond,” says Jim Moita.
"In Brentwood we built a 29
Kilovolt solar electric system in 2006,” Jim adds. "The facility is about 7.5
acres and pays an annual electric bill of about $500.00 (excluding the
residence). We are now looking to build a much larger 1-Megawatt system on our
roof in Brentwood and selling the power to PG&E or local users. The State
of California just passed SB-43 that will open up our industry to
utilize the roofs of our buildings for solar power.”
"In 2006 President Bush signed
into law a 30% tax credit for solar projects. The credit with extensions now
runs through 12-31-16. So, if you want
to reduce your cost of electricity, save on federal taxes, and possibly sell
power to your local utility or the local grocery store I suggest you consider
investing in solar energy.”
"Presently in California we have
approximately 190,000,000 square feet of self storage area. Just think if we
could join together as a power co-op to sell clean power from our rooftops. I
do believe that this an untapped resource that we can utilize in the future.”
This sort of enthusiasm about
finding ways to improve their industry runs very much at the heart of the way
Jim and Julie do business. Jim studied Political Economy of Natural
Resource with an emphasis in land use at UC Berkeley and Julie studied Business
& Spanish at San Francisco State. In the early & mid 1980’s Jim worked
for large institutional real estate companies and has been a real estate broker
since 1980. In 1987 he started his own commercial brokerage company where he
earned fairly large real estate commissions. In 1992 the couple began to look
for more consistent and steady cash flow in order to raise a family. Based upon
the numbers, Jim and Julie decided that the self storage business was an
opening the Pittsburg facility in 1997 the Moitas opened another in Brentwood
in 2005. The Pittsburg facility is 57,000 SF gross with 437 ground floor units
and the Brentwood business is 148,500 SF gross with 1132 ground floor units and
30 outdoor RV spaces.
the Moitas are avid supporters of the CSSA.
and foremost Erin (King) does a great job of keeping questions answered and
information flowing quickly when needed,” says Jim. "The members are mostly
owner/ operators that we have come to know. We have a network of business
owners that we can call to discuss issues. And, there are always a few issues
in this business. We have also purchased books and forms that we actively use
in our business. The events that CSSA holds are good for learning, networking,
speaking of the acorns not falling far from the tree, Jim and Julie have two
very talented sons, both of whom were wrestling stars in high school and now
attend two of America’s top universities. Son Vince is a senior at Brown
University in Providence, RI, and is studying business and urban planning.
Youngest son Joe is a sophomore at Columbia University in New York studying
economics. And both are still wrestling on their college teams.
is safe to say that Julie and Jim Moita are anything but nuts and that Acorn
Self Storage is a tribute to their energy, drive, and enthusiasm.