Warning: Canine puns ahead.
Need storage? Go fetch. A hybrid storage concept offering customers a creative solution has established its headquarters in Tampa. The choice of location makes sense, given that CEO, Peter Warhurst of Pods fame, has deep industry roots in the area. His venture, begun in 1999 and aptly named Red Rover, represents a novel category in the moving and storage space: fetchable storage.
“Red Rover is creating a whole new niche,” Warhurst says. “We think we’ll soon be a major presence as a lower-cost provider of storage in all major markets, within 12-24 months.”
Tampa, as a beta site, makes perfect sense to Warhurst, who cites the city’s mixture of culture, and community, as well as tourism exposure to the rest of the country as major benefits. The company currently maintains three facilities in the Tampa area, in addition to one each in Massachusetts and New York and two in North Carolina. More are planned on the upcoming calendar this year.
Here’s how fetchable storage works: Customers book online, or call a concierge, to arrange for a truck. They then arrive at a Red Rover site and climb into a pre-loaded truck that holds a portable storage unit. The truck design makes loading and unloading a walk in the park, thanks to the hand cart conveniently attached to each vehicle.
A patent-pending, remote-control ramp that requires only a push of a button means easy access. Once all items are loaded, the customer then drives the truck back to the Red Rover location and leaves it. Company personnel unload and add the items to a warehouse. Out of sight, out of mind and a customer who is out fewer dollars than other moving or storage concepts—that’s Warhurst’s aim. A blend of the best of truck rental and portable storage that’s easily, and economically, “fetchable.” That, he says, is the bones of Red Rover.
The idea came to Warhurst during his Pods years, as he endeavored to improve upon logistical processes. The serial entrepreneur sold Pods to a private equity firm in 2007, after implementing many innovative protocols. One challenge, in particular, kept him wondering: how could I do it better? A blend of truck rental and portable storage became Red Rover.
“The delivery service at Pods was never perfect,” he says. “I reflected upon what could be done differently and we address those pain points.”
Warhurst’s team has extensive experience in the portable storage space, which he believes helped him raise capital. Then there’s his own résumé to consider, highlighted by a 100% success rate when it comes to profitable startup exits. When he left Pods, the company had more than 100 corporate and franchise locations. He fully believes this is in Red Rover’s future.
Even if that future involves extensive pandemic protocols, he is confident in Red Rover’s ability to inspire consumer confidence. Face-to-face contact is next to nil in the Fetchable Storage design. Consumers deliver a loaded truck to an unmanned site and misters are used to fully sanitize the vehicles.
“We feel as if we’re a great design in the [COVID-19] environment,” Warhurst says. “The level of sanitization is extremely high.”
Looking forward, Warhurst foresees major storage domination throughout the country. And, through it all, he’ll be testing ideas in Tampa first before releasing them nationwide. This is the area where 83% of Red Rover stakeholders reside, after all. As he continues to raise capital, he looks forward to hiring more employees he describes as “world-class” and becoming a recognizable name in storage and beyond.
The novel ramp system could be used by other industries, he says, and this possibility will be explored. It solves the challenge of rear and side-loading. The days of setting up a heavy ramp and dragging items to it are in the past; this is storage without the struggle. Ease of use for customers is a major highlight of the Red Rover experience.
To entrepreneurs who hope for “home runs” like Pods and, perhaps, Red Rover, Warhurst advises that the struggle must be embraced. He approximates that a hundred people have told him, in passing, I thought of the Pods concept first. But being able to be fully committed to a concept, he says, takes courage. Having a real plan to take the idea to market is imperative.
“If you can come to terms with borrowing money, spending your savings and having a solid handle on risk versus reward, you can be successful,” he says.
If you’re only willing to go fetch that dream.
“I felt confident, opening in Tampa Bay and raising capital here,” he says. “There’s a strong entrepreneurial community. ♦