Here at StaxUP Storage, we know our success is due to our wonderful team. The care they give our renters is unparalleled and we want to highlight their milestones along the way. Below is an interview with San Diego team member Gary Garcia who is celebrating his 1-year anniversary with StaxUP Storage this week. All interviews are performed by Peter Soto.
Peter: How did you get started in self storage?
Gary: I’m going to be honest with you. I was just looking for a job. At the time I didn’t have transportation, so I was looking for something local. I’ve always been interested in property management. In fact, I was looking for something more along the lines of residential management, like apartments. When I was going through job searching on craigslist I came across one that was local, it was in Chula Vista, started off with decent pay and it was basically for maintenance. Although I wanted to become a manager eventually or assistant manager, what I knew how to do was maintenance. That was my foot in the door, so I went in and applied for it, two, three months later I got the call and I’ve been here ever since.
Peter: That’s great. You worked your way into management now.
Gary: Yeah, I’m the maintenance and assistant manager, so I do both office work and the maintenance. When I first started, they told me I would be doing about 20% office work and 80% maintenance and that kind of scared me at first, because I wasn’t really computer literate, but now that’s where I prefer to be. I love interacting with the customers. I love the whole aspect of the office, so it’s been pretty fun.
Peter: So you’d say StaxUp took the time to set you up with computer and back office skills you didn’t have before?
Gary: Yeah, they’re 100% responsible for where I’m at today as far as my level and where I’m headed. I give them 100% of the credit for that.
Peter: Awesome. I’ve done a number of these interviews now and something that I hear all the time is that Strat Prop really takes time to invest in their team, but they also give them a lot of independence. Is that similar to what you’ve experienced?
Gary: Oh, yeah. I have my fair share of independence. They let you go on your own and use what you’ve learned to the best of your abilities, which gives you trust and when you get that trust it builds your confidence. I want to make sure I do the best I can in order to show them that I’m capable. They gave me everything I need to do the job I’m doing. Now sometimes I work alone. I have no problems. I’m not worried that I’m going to do something wrong or come across a situation I can’t handle. That was something they did during our training.
Peter: So after a year do you have any stories or moments that stick out in your memory?
Gary: I’m not sure about stories. I just know that with both of my team members, it’s always full of laughs and it’s always a great time. The things that stand out the most are almost all customer related. There have been so many times, so many moments of satisfaction I get from helping somebody or calling somebody by their name as they walk in and making them feel a part of something. Those are my rewards.
Peter: Oh yeah, just doing the right thing.
Gary: Yeah, it’s integrity, right? That’s one of the things, being able to apply integrity in my position and going full out for the customer makes my experience here all the better.
Peter: Self storage seems so boring on the outside, but when you hear things like that you can see a lot of humanity in it.
Gary: You’re interacting with so many people. Some are just here to store personal belongings for a short period of time, but everyone is storing their personal belongings and they have a story behind it. You know, some of them are not so great. Some are moving on to something better and they just need something right now until they get into a bigger house. Or some people who have just lost everything. Just being able to sit there and talk to them and comfort them and try to make their experience the best possible under the circumstances. It’s great. Something I’ve noticed in self storage is that you have an opportunity to do that every single day.
Peter: You really meet all types of people in the self storage industry. So, you don’t spend all of your time at the self storage facility. Who are you when you aren’t at work?
Gary: At this point I’m just a father. I go out there and do everything I can, even on my days off. Just yesterday was my one weekend day off and I wanted to relax and do laundry, so my kids have laundry for the week and instead my cousin is here from out of town visiting my grandma. I guess they went into her trailer and saw it leaking and found some mildew, so they ended up tearing down the whole roof. The walls were all messed up, so they called for my help, so I went over there and knocked all the walls out. Now it’s all open and exposed. Everything’s gone. Then yesterday we put the whole thing up in one day.
Gary: Yep. We put the walls up, all the joints all the rafters, side paneling, ceiling. So then it was just up to my cousin to put the roofing and drywall in. We got it all done it one day. It was cool. It’s one of those things. I love the smell of cut wood. Just being able to do something for somebody is it’s own reward. I didn’t expect to get paid for it. I just happened to be available and I knew what I was doing, so it was fun. Other than that, I used to draw. I don’t really get into that anymore. At this point I am just focusing on my job and seeing where I can go with this. I think my biggest and best hobby and pastime and everything all together is just being a great father to my two kids now and just being able to provide for them. That’s what it’s all about for me.
Peter: What are your kids’ names?
Gary: I have a son that’s named Gary as well. He’s 13 years old, just turned 13, so I got a little teenager on my hands. Then I have my daughter, Gabriella, Gabby, she just turned nine. She’s like my little heart beat as well. My little daddy’s girl. It’s not easy being a single parent, but at the end of the day it’s worth it.
Peter: That’s a huge job.
Gary: Yeah, that’s why I have gratitude toward Strat Prop, because they’ve actually given me the skills , tools and essentials to help provide for them.
Peter: That’s heartwarming. So do you live in the Chula Vista area?
Gary: It’s kind of funny, because I’ve been here my whole life. I live right off of Hilltop and Palomar. I’ve lived down this road for 30+ years, so I know everything here. I’m very familiar with this whole area, because I was born and raised here in Chula Vista. That’s one of the main things that attracted me to this property, that it is in Chula Vista. Right now I have joint custody of my daughter and she’s a big part of my life, so I have to be within this area in order to maintain that, so this is perfect. I’ve been living here for 43 years in Chula Vista, so it’s pretty convenient for me.
Peter: I’ve only been in that area a couple times. As someone who knows everything around there, do you have any suggestions for things I can do it Chula Vista next time I visit?
Gary: Depends on when you come down. If you come down during the summer time, let’s say you come down in May, from the end of May to September, you could always check out the water park right here on Main Street that was once owned by Knott’s Berry Farms, but now it’s owned by Sea World. It’s called Aquatica and it’s maybe a mile and a half from here. It’s a nice summer spot. Nice water slides. It’s a pretty nice place to go. Other than that, it just depends on your tastes. There’s good pizza at La Bella’s, good Mexican food at Hermano’s. There’s a few things to do around here. But, like I said, I’m more of a home body. There’s the AMC right here off of Palm. That’s my favorite one. Out of all of the theaters in the area, this one is the cheapest for some reason. Of course, the one in Chula Vista mall has recliners and you get to reserve your seat, so that’s kind of good too.
Peter: Those were actually all of the questions I had prepared. Is there anyone at the company you would like to give a shout-out at StaxUp or the home office?
Gary: Anna and Yesenia at Chula Vista, Monique and the crew over at San Ysidro, Adam and the team members at Ballpark, and, of course, everyone at the home office at Strat Prop!