Changes at a self-storage booking website are bringing more than 30 jobs to Omaha. Now, when people call or visit Storage.com to rent a storage unit, they'll be talking to someone in Omaha or using software developed here.
Local Web development and marketing firm B2 Interactive, which launched at the end of 2012, has entered a licensing agreement with the owners of Storage.com to move the business to Omaha from Salt Lake City and operate it here.
None of the employees will be relocated, so B2 owners Bill Hipsher and Brandon Taylor have been busy hiring. They're more than doubling the size of their staff and office space at 144th and F Streets in Millard.
The new employees include about 20 call center workers, who will be hired over the next month, and about a dozen technology and other professional positions, including software engineers, Web programmers and graphic designers, along with an operations executive. Salaries for those jobs range from about $40,000 to more than $100,000.
The owners of the domain also operate self-storage facilities and want to concentrate on that business, Hipsher said.
Self-storage is an industry Hipsher and Taylor, both 37, know well.
They met in 2008 at USstoragesearch.com, an Omaha firm Hipsher helped found and later sold, while Taylor, who has also founded and sold an online business, was director of technology. Today, Hipsher said, B2 is an affiliate, not a competitor, for USstoragesearch.com; the other site hires B2 for marketing and site development and the two share storage facility listings.
Working with Taylor, “We found we had a lot of common goals and other things we wanted to do besides just storage,” Hipsher said.
Their B2 (B-squared) clients include local and national clients in industries including retail, health care and financial services.
But they also wanted to stay involved in storage, and their management proposal to the owners of Storage.com was selected over other firms', they said. Taylor wrote software that connects the site live to available storage facilities around the country, a challenge with numerous property management systems in use.
The storage industry, Hipsher said, is profitable in good and weak economic times, as people buy, then store, consumer goods. There are 50,859 self-storage facilities in the country, up from 41,122 facilities in 2005, although growth slowed in recent years, said Poppy Behrens, publisher of industry magazine Mini-Storage Messenger.
Behrens said the industry is highly fragmented, with the 100 biggest facility owners representing about 17 percent of the industry.
Hipsher said that means many owners are on their own when it comes to marketing their business and could benefit not only from the online listings but also the online marketing services Storage.com will provide. The site will have listings by mid-November for about 7,500 storage facilities.
“We still think there are some big holes in what tools are out there in online marketing in the storage industry,” Hipsher said. “Now we have the opportunity to do everything we always wanted to, on a great domain name.”