Storing people’s stuff is big business for area firm

Fueled by demand for space to house everything from boats to equipment, Meadowlark Storage has grown from one Fredonia facility to three locations, with more to open soon

MEADOWLARK STORAGE OWNER Laura Logan stood outside one of her three facilities, this one in the Town of Grafton, which opened in May. She plans to open facilities in Belgium and Oostburg in fall. Photos by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

  When Laura Logan opened Meadowlark Storage off Highway 57 in Fredonia 18 years ago, there was a sterotype that customers were hoarders who didn’t want to throw their prized belongings away.
    Today, that is no longer the case, and Logan has expanded her operations to several sites and is seeking to develop a couple more self-storage locations.  
    “When I started, storage was kind of looked down upon negatively,” she said. “But people have really learned that they need it. You can’t get rid of your junk when it’s not really junk.”
    In May, Logan opened her latest location in the Town of Grafton at 2021 Hwy. W. The facility has 221 units ranging in size from 10-by-20 feet to 15-by-40 feet, including 60 climate-controlled units.
    She said many of her customers like to store their classic cars, boats and recreational vehicles, while others are small business owners who keep their equipment off site.
    With the strong economy, Logan has noticed more people spending money on their hobbies who need a place to store their equipment.
    “There’s always been a demand for it because people really need the access, especially since we’re really close to the lake. People love it, and I have lots of boats here,” she said. “Most storage facilities have about 30 feet in between buildings. I never owned a boat or RV but I know what it takes to park them. ”
    She also has a third location in Cedar Grove and will have two more locations by the end of fall in Belgium and Oostburg.
    Logan said having several locations along I-43 is useful for customers when storage space is limited.
    “What’s nice is they’re close enough so if we run out of space at one location, a person can easily travel to one of the other locations,” she said. Since opening the Grafton site, 30 people have moved their belongings there from the Cedar Grove and Fredonia facilities.
    She said the old rule of thumb is that people store their belongings within three to five miles from their homes. But Logan has customers within a 20 to 30-mile radius because her units are bigger and prices are more reasonable than her competitors.
    Next door to her facility in Grafton is another self-storage site, but Logan doesn’t see it as competition because it serves different types of clients.
    She said nationally there is a movement to buy available space and old buildings for storage because the sites can be easily retrofitted.
    Over the years, Logan has seen a number of interesting items stored, including racing tires, golf clubs, expensive knife collections and guns.
    One time, however, she caught a few people sleeping in one of the storage lockers.
    “I had to check on a lock one night and I saw one of the doors was up two feet and I thought that was weird. When I pulled the door, there were four people sleeping inside, and around the corner someone was walking with a bag of food from McDonald’s,” she said. “It was a total fluke, and I gave them their notice right then.”
    Logan’s sites are secure with gated entrances and security cameras, and she said she hasn’t experienced any vandalism or thefts in the past.
    She said as a landlord she appreciates rules and organization. Most of her customers pay their monthly dues on time, but when a renter is late for too long, the contents of the unit are sold at auction and can go for anywhere from $250 to $600, and sometimes more than $1,500.
    “I have my own little group of characters who show up and they can get pretty competitive,” Logan said. “If something is really good, they get very serious and quiet. One time, there was a unit full of shotguns and chainsaws.”
    After studying business and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Logan began flipping duplexes in Milwaukee. She got the idea to enter the self-storage business because there was less upkeep and overhead costs.
    “There’s no toilets, roofs and painting to worry about,” Logan said.
    She mostly ran the business by herself, but she would occasionally call on her two teenage sons to help maintain the properties. She hopes after her children graduate from college they will follow in her footsteps.
    “I did all of the hard work, and I want my boys to be able run the company eventually,” she said.
    Last year, Logan hired Lisa Oppeneer as a manager because of her expansion projects.
    At the end of October, the business is expected have approximately 1,200 units at five locations. Logan said she has her sights set on eventually expanding the Cedar Grove and Oostburg locations, and has a couple of “top secret” locations in mind to round out her services in Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties.
    “People definitely see a need in self storage, and I want to help them keep their belongings safe,” she said. “As long as people don’t want to throw away their stuff, I’ll be here to help them.”

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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