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Lowe’s expands presence in portable storage business

BY Ken Ryan

Lowe’s Home Improvement has been a participant in the growing mobile storage services industry since becoming a preferred partner of 1-800-Pack-Rat, one of the segment’s leading providers. Pack-Rat container displays appear at Lowe’s locations throughout the country. Lowe’s customers receive 10% off of container rentals by mentioning Lowe’s—or that they saw the display—while renting Pack-Rat units for moving and storage.

For homeowner-focused retailers like Lumber Liquidators and Lowe’s, the multi-billion-dollar mobile storage services market represents a branding opportunity as it keeps their name top of mind with the millions of residential customers who rent the containers.

Industry pioneer PODS Enterprises is the largest company in the industry in terms of market share, with Lowe’s partner 1-800-Pack-Rat (that’s the official full name of the company) rated No. 2. However, several newcomers have entered the space in recent years to put pressure on the leaders.

A closer look at the top players in mobile storage:

PODS

The industry’s most visible operator, Portable On Demand Storage, or PODS, has nearly reached the status of being a household name.  Founded in 1998, PODS containers are offered in sizes of 7-, 12-, and 16-feet long. The containers are made of aluminum skin and steel frames with a translucent top to let in light; and a lightweight steel, roll-up door that is designed to make them easy to open and close. PODS services 48 states.

1-800-Pack-Rat/Lowe’s

Along with PODS, 1-800-Pack-Rat is the most popular moving container option. 1-800-Pack-Rat’s containers, made entirely of steel, are available in two sizes —12- and 16-feet. The 12-foot container can hold one and two rooms of belongings while the 16-foot container can hold between three and four rooms of furniture and boxes. 1-800-Pack-Rat’s patented mini-mover lift system can lift a fully-loaded container without tilting, swaying, or sliding and places it anywhere a truck can be driven. The container and belongings stay level during the entire transfer process. Pack-Rat offers a 10% discount for Lowe's customers (or those who type in LOWES in the promo-code field). 

U-Haul

U-Haul’s U-Box portable moving containers come in one size, 7-feet 6 inches x 5-feet, 8 inches, which is capable of holding approximately 2,000 pounds of household items.  U-Haul, unlike many of its competitors, allows for customers to transport their U-Box using a custom-designed trailer that can be towed using their own vehicle. For multi-box delivery, U-Haul has specially designed trucks capable of transporting multiple boxes at once.

ABF U-Pack (ReloCubes)

The company offers three different delivery methods—a flatbed trailer, a drop-deck trailer, or a lift-gate van, which is similar to a tractor trailer. Because U-Pack utilizes ABF delivery, it is capable of delivering the portable storage containers in a reliable, safe and effective manner.

Smartbox

Smartbox portable self-storage containers are available in one size—7-feet x 5-feet x 8-feet, which are capable of holding about a room to a room and a half of furniture and goods weighing up to 2,000 pounds. The doors on the containers swing wide on piano hinges to allow full and easy access for loading.

ZippyShell

With a fresh investment of $25 million, ZippyShell is embarking on rapid expansion bolstered by a national marketing campaign. ZippyShell is positioned as a lower-priced alternative to portable storage companies like PODS as well as a more convenient alternative to traditional self-storage. ZippyShell’s containers are trailers on wheels rather than boxes that are lifted and removed from trailers. This offers some maneuverability benefits and allows the trailer to be delivered back to the customer.

COWs (Container on Wheels)

Like ZippyShell, COWs containers are on wheels but not trailer wheels. COWs containers have smaller wheels that allow renters to move the container from place to place. Renters can keep the COWs containers at your home or place of business or COWs can store it and/or move it locally or nationally.

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HBSDealer Stock Watch: Strong numbers on Friday

BY HBSDealer Staff

Industry stocks had a field day on Friday, with gainers beating decliners by a factor of four to one. Leading the charge was the volatile SHLD, up 8.09% for the day. PPG gained 3.02% and TREX was up 2.11%.

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If you build it, will they come? Yes.

BY Andy Carlo

Phoenix — A packed ballroom of LBM industry executives, including dealers and vendors, received solid news at the opening session of the 2017 ProDealer Industry Summit.

Ivy Zelman, CEO of the Zelman & Associates – the housing market research firm – said there is plenty of room for growth and increased sales in the coming years during a presentation that focused how the housing industry might look in 2018 and beyond.

While some have argued that millennials are not interested in purchasing new homes, Zelman counters that members of the generation are marrying and having children at an increased rate. “As this massive tailwind comes through, people are going to need shelter — and we don’t have enough,” Zelman said, while noting that 40% of all mortgages in the second quarter of 2017 were from millennials.

“Home ownership rates are going up and I think the American Dream is alive and well,” Zelman said.

Zelman & Associates forecasts single-family housing starts to increase 12 percent in 2018 and 9 percent in 2019 with home improvement spending growing by 5 percent next year. The New York and Cleveland-based research firm estimates that home improvement spending is up more than 6 percent this year.

A key to growth is the lack of existing homes on the market.  Within the top 30 U.S. housing markets, entry-level homes are at a 2.8 month supply, while “first-move-up” homes are a 3.2 month supply, Zelman says. Overall, the nation’s housing supply is at a 30-year low. “It’s eerily similar in many parts of the nation.”

The need for more housing and new housing are ingredients for fueling a surge in new construction. Baby Boomers are aging in place and in no hurry to sell. Rather, they’re spending on upgrades and renovation.

“Millennials want new construction,” Zelman says. “But smaller homes of available product are desperately needed.” Given these conditions, the Cleveland-based analyst suggests that builders become “pioneers more than ever,” primarily due to land inflation, and build more entry-level homes in new, untapped areas.

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