Neighborhood Storage sale to Public Storage
Todd Rudnianyn poses outside of his last remaining Neighborhood Storage Center named Neighborhood Workspace on Northeast 8th Avenue in Ocala on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.
Todd Rudnianyn, a well-known and respected businessman in the community and an Ocala/Marion County native, has announced the sale of 26 Neighborhood Storage facilities to Public Storage, the largest self-storage provider in the United States, for an undisclosed price. The transaction—finalized on Dec. 13, 2022—includes two additional properties currently under construction. Neighborhood Storage will maintain a presence in town, having retained one property from its portfolio at 1521 NE Eighth Ave.
The sale to Public Storage marks an important milestone in Neighborhood Storage’s successful business journey. Started in 1978 by Todd’s parents John and Shirley Rudnianyn along with business partner and friend Walter Berman, Neighborhood Storage grew into a thriving enterprise and the largest self-storage provider in the region with multiple locations throughout Ocala/Marion County.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to make,” Rudnianyn shared. “Over the past several years we’ve been approached hundreds of times. We received a lot of calls and always did our due diligence. Most of the time our answer was, ‘We have more work to do here.’ Obviously, we are very pro-Ocala and we’re from Ocala, but the opportunity to sell to Public Storage in this transaction was something that was a little bit different than what we had discussed or seen in the past and from a multitude of levels.
“Neighborhood Storage is a remotely managed company,” he continued. “So, all the locations were satellite sites, which means there were no full-time in-person customer service managers. Most facilities had self service kiosks and customers also utilized our website and over the phone customer service.”
“When we sat down and had a conversation with Public Storage, the marriage of their technological and management expertise combined with the things we had implemented worked well, and our leadership team is now the team at those sites today. Our guys are still out there, and our operational supervisors are there. It is cool that you can add this layer of their (Public Storage) nationwide presence and their management platform to what we put into place and make it hum, and that was intriguing. It allowed us to find a good steward for the portfolio that we built over the last four decades.”
As Marion County grew, so did Neighborhood Storage. Rudnianyn joined the company in 2005, after completing his studies at the University of Pennsylvania—he also attended Harvard Business School while on a work hiatus—and started his career in investment banking with Lehman Brothers.
With an eye toward innovation and customer service, Rudnianyn saw an opportunity for Neighborhood Storage to expand beyond the five locations in the portfolio when he came aboard. Having learned the ropes of entrepreneurship from his parents and Berman, he applied his business acumen to the already successful company and turned his vision for expansion into reality.
“After college, I went to work in banking initially, and got a little bit of an education in the self-storage industry because we did the underwriting for a significant transaction at that time,” he said. “I thought that it was an amazing business. When I worked on that project, I thought that maybe there was an opportunity here. I came home, and Walter and my parents afforded me the opportunity to slowly take the reins.
“There was definitely a learning curve in transition,” he continued, “but since that time we grew to 27 facilities of which Public Storage has now acquired 26 of them with 28 and 29 currently under construction and under contract to be acquired at the time of completion.”
Determined to expand and meet a growing demand for high-quality and convenient storage solutions for individuals, families, and businesses, Neighborhood Storage invested in state-of-the-art facilities, advanced technology, and professional staff. As a result, Neighborhood Storage became a trusted partner for many people in the Ocala/Marion County community.
Looking back, Rudnianyn is proud of what he helped build in concert with his family and Berman, and he is grateful for all the employees who contributed to the success of the company. He has witnessed many changes in the local business community over the years as well, and he is thankful to all the customers, partners, and employees who supported the business and mentored him along the way.
“Ocala is a great community to grow a business,” Rudnianyn said. “You go to any (Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership) events and listen to (CEO and president) Kevin Sheilley, and you see the amount of growth that we have going on here, and it is just phenomenal. We’re fortunate to be in Ocala/Marion County. (The business community) is a tight-knit environment which is great. What has been added has been a level of sophistication and third-party technical expertise. A CEP or a local vendor can help with IT and all of those types of things within the community. That increased level of sophistication while still maintaining the local Ocala feel gives you the best of both worlds.
“I am fortunate to be surrounded by partners that really created a foundation and a platform for that growth,” he continued. “Regardless of whether it was operations or maintenance, or accounting, as we grew it was a very familial, boots-on-the-ground, work-hard type of environment that I was fortunate to be involved with. The guidance of Walter and my parents as we navigated our growth was instrumental as well. Honestly, a lot of things came together and there are a lot of people that I am grateful for, including the community at large which has been really supportive of our business over the past 40 years.”
In commenting on the sale, Mike McGowan, Public Storage’s senior vice president of acquisitions, said of the 28 properties with 1.2 million net rentable square feet, “We are excited to acquire another quality portfolio in a high-growth market from an innovative team. We have implemented Public Storage’s digital and broader operational advantages, while also mutually sharing best practices with the Neighborhood Storage team throughout the process. We thank Todd and the team for their integrity and partnership.”
Despite the transfer of ownership, Rudnianyn is confident in a seamless transition, and he expects the local facilities to continue to thrive under the Public Storage banner.
“The relationship that we had with Public Storage through the transaction and continue to have now is great,” he noted. “They were great to work with, and when you are selling something within your community, you have to take a lot of things into consideration.”
While it remains to be seen what new opportunities are ahead for Rudnianyn, multiple limited liability corporations controlled by the Rudnianyn family have recently paid $37.55 million for 12,712 acres in northeast Marion County. The land, located on the west side of County Road 315, north of Anthony/Burbank Road and south of County Road 316, was bought from Sleepy Creek Lands LLC, a Canadian-based company associated with Frank Stronach’s family. Reportedly, the vast acreage will be a multi-use agricultural operation called Fort McCoy Forest.
For now, though, Rudnianyn is still operating Neighborhood Storage’s unique Eight Avenue location and pondering his next moves.
“It’s a really cool spot,” he said, “and it didn’t fit into their (Public Storage) operating platforms, really. A large portion of it is workspaces, which allows for small businesses to have incubator spaces, art studios, and things like that which aren’t typical for a pure self-storage facility. We’ve really enjoyed having it and having the opportunity to work with some of the small businesses and artists in Ocala.
As for what’s next, he said, “The idea of having a minute to take a breather and figure that out is appealing. We’ll see. I will stay around the realm of real estate and urban planning and in Ocala in general. I’m excited to see what’s next.”