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United StorageYou may need some extra storage space for the summer, or a place to keep things that don't fit in your hose.  or you may need more storage for your business, or even a place to work.  That's where United Storage comes in.  It is a locally owned business that provides secure storage for all kinds of uses.  Aside from mini-storage units, a couple of tenants store landscaping materials.  An electrical supplier and painters use the facility.  A skate board company occupies one building.  Borg Warner and Ithaca College store things there.  Another tenant hand-forges knives and swords.  The company prides itself on providing friendly service.

"We're definitely here to help do whatever you need or maintain the facility," says Kimberly Budd, who manages the storage side of the business.  "People normally like palettes in their units.  Dana is our right hand man who takes care of that.  We make sure the doors are functional, take care of snow removal -- all that kind of stuff.  We try to make our billing as easy as possible.  There is a pay button on our Web site so you can pay online.  or people can call in with credit cards or mail checks or stop by -- it's up to them."

Budd says that in addition to friendly service, rental prices are quite reasonable.

"A lot of other storage places say they are the cheapest in town, she says.  "Our rates are pretty much half of what other places charge.  That was really surprising to me."

Budd has worked for the company for just over a year.  It is owned by Bill Duthie of Duthie Painting, which is also based at the Ridge Road facility, just west of the Lansing schools.  She works closely with Heidi VanOstrand, who has been with Duthie for decades.  As soon as she was hired Budd found herself in the thick of it.  Her first task was to auction the contents of abandoned storage units.

"I'd never organized an auction before.  I had no idea what I was doing.  Auctioneers are very expensive.  Heidi smiled at me and said, 'Guess what -- you get to be our auctioneer.'"

United Storage

Around 25 people showed up to bid.  Six of eight abandoned units were sold.  She found John Michaels, who had a Web site that was similar to what Budd was looking for, but not exactly.  When she asked if he knew of a site for auctioning storage unit contents he liked the idea so well that he created a new site for just that purpose.

"I can auction off a storage unit online," she says.  "That's been more successful than a live on-site auction.  Some people come to the facility to look at the merchandise, but the auction takes place online.  It's definitely not like Storage Wars!"

The facility can be used to store just about anything, including cars, furniture, boats, RVs, lawn mowers, old files,motorcycles and snow blowers.  But employees didn't expect to find one item when a unit was abandoned some years ago.

"We found an urn with somebody in it," VanOstrand says.  "It was sealed.  It was the creepiest thing that we had come here.  It was sad that it was abandoned."

The business is owned by Bill Duthie, who's Duthie Painting trucks have roamed the area for decades.  It started in 1997 with one 3,000 square foot building.  Duthie needed storage space for his paint business, and thought other businesses might benefit as well.  So far the business has grown to 15 buildings at the Ridge Road location for a total of 76000 square feet.  Another location on Verizon Lane adds another four buildings with a fith planned for the near future.

"Normally we're filled up in the winter and fall because people are cleaning out, people are moving" Budd says. "We try to stay as full as possible year 'round.  Occasionally we have Cornell students store their stuff.  It's not really a lot,.  Normally it's people moving or building houses.  That's our big portion.  Or people trying to downsize, where they can't necessarily let go of their belongings.  At least if it's out of sight then it seems like their house is bigger for a space of time."

United StorageUnited Storage has two Lansing locations at 484 Ridge Road (left) and Verizon Lane (off of Town Barn Road)

The property, including the main building, was the old United Parcel Service (UPS) terminal.  UPS moved to its Warren Road location, and sold the parcel to Duthie. When he decided to open the storage business 'United' stuck, becoming the name of the new venture.

Some of the buildings are used strictly for storage.  Others house businesses.  The company says it is willing to build according to clients' needs.  The property is well lit and secured with video surveillance.  And key to the company's success, the staff takes pride in the personal touch.

"We had a customer that came from California who had lived in California for 30 plus years and was moving back to Genoa to be with his family," says Budd.  "He said he felt more like family with us than a customer.  We try to treat our customers really well and work with people."

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