What Makes RV & Boat Storage a Great Investment
RecNation's Gary Wojtaszek on the newly rebranded company and what drives demand for RV & marine storage facilities.
As self storage demand keeps growing, investors are capitalizing on new niches, with recreational vehicles and boat storage among the most prominent subsectors.
RecNation, formerly known as Recreational Realty, focuses exclusively on RV and marine storage facilities, and currently owns properties in Florida, Texas and Arizona. The company has recently secured a $300 million round of funding to boost its growth.
Multi-Housing News asked RecNation CEO & Founder Gary Wojtaszek—an outdoor enthusiast himself—to talk about what drives demand for these specialized facilities and what makes the subsector a good investment.
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Self storage proved to be a resilient sector for investment in these past few years. Has this been true for RecNation’s specialized niche as well?
Wojtaszek: During COVID-19, I saw firsthand the lack of quality, convenient storage and the opportunity in the market, and so we created RecNation with the goal of being where those outdoor enthusiasts go. We’re very disciplined about where we raise our flag, and given our proximity to some incredible places—from the Grand Canyon to Ft. Meyers to Disney World—the demand for quality, affordable storage in those areas is going to be there. More and more of the homes being built in this country are in highly restrictive communities that limit what residents can store at their own properties—which should continue to benefit our business long term.
While recreational storage is a more specialized investment space than self storage broadly, we have also partnered with a dedicated investor in Centerbridge Partners that uniquely understands the specialized real estate and storage markets and has high conviction in our business model. We’re confident in the long-term growth outlook for our business and the sector as a whole. We provide our customers with a high value benefit in terms of protecting their expensive toys for a relatively low price. Generally speaking, I’d argue that our customers love their boats and RVs a lot more than the old couches and file boxes typically stored in self storage and, as we all know, that industry has done incredibly well over the past few decades.
We believe specialized RV and boat storage is going to be incredibly resilient.
What made this the right moment to rebrand as RecNation and what makes the company a community-focused one?
Wojtaszek: The RecNation brand conveys the community-driven focus and enthusiasm for all things outdoors that we bring to our work. Sure, we’re owners and managers of these specialized real estate assets, but we’re also full-time enthusiasts—whether it’s hiking, boating, road tripping, biking, you name it. We’re no different from the customers we serve, which I think gives us a truly unique perspective in terms of what we’re solving for, and what our customers want and need. Our customers frequently share the memories of the trips they take and in the next iteration of our website, we will have a section that will include customers’ photos of our brand in some of the cool places they recently visited.
How does the rise of remote work fit into the big picture for your company?
Wojtaszek: The “work from anywhere” movement isn’t going away. As more and more individuals are working remotely and enjoying the freedom and flexibility that provides, we’re seeing them turn to the outdoors—whether visiting parks, setting off on long road trips or finding new ways to spend more time outside.
In that same vein, we have also seen record-breaking RV and boat sales, and as more and more vehicles and toys come to the market, there’s going to be a rising need to store them safely and securely. There really isn’t one brand or one team right now that you can trust for that at scale, and that’s something we’re looking to change.
RecNation recently secured a $300 million credit facility to help its growth. What do you hope to achieve with this new investment?
Wojtaszek: We expect to be serial capital raisers as we look to grow our footprint across the country, and the credit facility provided additional resources to really turbocharge our growth efforts and service offerings. In 2022, we have acquired 28 additional facilities across three states and continue to explore new and innovative ways to service the customers who entrust us with some of their most important possessions.
What markets have you targeted for expansion this year and what other markets do you intend to expand to in the future?
Wojtaszek: This past August we announced our inaugural expansion into the Southwest with the acquisition of a facility in Phoenix, Arizona. This was an exciting step for the RecNation team—especially given Phoenix’s proximity to some of the most beautiful parks in the country, and it’s a region we’re continuing to explore for additional opportunities.
Over the next 12 months, we have plans for rapid expansion across the Southwest region, as well as in our existing stronghold states—Florida and Texas. Our team is planning to acquire additional locations across Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver and Salt Lake City, which will provide a whole new swath of the market with specialized, secure facilities to store their prized recreational toys.
Could you please go into more detail about the most recent expansion in metro Phoenix? How will it serve the tenant base there?
Wojtaszek: The Phoenix expansion marked RecNation’s entrance into the Southwest market—a market that is ripe for quality, specialized recreational storage solutions, as nearby national parks offering a range of recreational activities continue to see record attendance levels.
The newly acquired RecNation facility in Phoenix will provide the same specialized solutions for recreational vehicles as all our locations nationwide—including enclosed garages, video surveillance, 24-hour accessibility and secured, gated facilities. We will provide our southwestern customers with the same trusted service as those across the nation—all with our same welcoming attitude and enthusiasm for the outdoors.
What are the main differences between “traditional” self storage and RV & boat storage facilities?
Wojtaszek: The types of vehicles we support—boats, RVs, ATVs, autos and motorcycles—often require specialized, fit-for-purpose storage, including enclosed garages, space to get in and out, increased security and surveillance, 24/7 access, electric for battery charging and a dump station to empty out their waste storage tanks. Most importantly though, our facilities have extra wide drive aisles which is incredibly important to customers who are towing large vehicles. A large luxury trailer could be 45-foot long and pulled by a 20-foot truck, which requires driveway widths of 70 feet or wider.
Facilities that are not purpose-built for boats and RVs have narrow driveways which are difficult for customers to park their vehicles in and result in frequent damage to the vehicles and buildings. For the first-time RV owner, parking an RV can be one of the most stressful things they can do. We focus on these issues, so our customers can focus more of their time road tripping across the country or spending time on the lake fishing.
What are tenants demanding from RV & boat storage facilities today?
Wojtaszek: Security and convenience are what I might call the two foundational pillars of what our members in the RecNation community are looking for.
One growing segment we are starting to see an increased need for is charging and electrical access within our storage units as EVs continue to grow in popularity, which is something we are considering implementing across some of our facilities.
How are today’s economic headwinds affecting development trends within the sector? What are your expectations?
Wojtaszek: We expect that our business will continue to perform well against the oncoming economic headwinds. The increased inflationary environment we are in has caused more customers to choose to go on RV vacations, which are inexpensive relative to a traditional vacation which involves purchasing airplane tickets and staying in a hotel. Additionally, we expect that even as the country heads into a recession, our customers will continue to look to protect and store their vehicles with us, as the rates we charge are relatively de minimis compared to the value of the vehicles being stored.