In 2000 and 2001, Peter Hitler sponsored meetings for self storage owners to discuss operating procedures. Several self storage owners volunteered to be on a panel to answer questions from the audience. The meetings were well attended and well received. It was during these meetings that the question of forming an association was discussed. An informal voted indicated that many owners were interested in forming an association.
A small group of storage owners including Peter Hitler, Ron Becker, Kent Olson, Ken Breunig and Ken Bolton formed the first board of directors in 2002. At this point it was a 100% volunteer organization. Soon after the formation of the organization, a storage issue arose in Madison. A city alderman who was using storage was charged a late fee which he felt was unfair and wanted to pass a law in the city to limit late fees to a nominal amount. The newly formed association jumped in with both feet and hired an attorney to fight this purposed law. Our fear was this law may spread to the rest of the state. We also felt that it would make running a business difficult if every city had their own laws concerning storage. After spending about $10,000 in attorney fees and owners volunteering to go to council meetings, the law did pass. It only affects the city of Madison.
Our organization continued to grow in terms of membership and volunteer time to run the organization. The board of directors decided that the best plan of action would be to hire an association management company to handle all the staff functions of running our organization. We could now give the members a permanent address and phone number to call with questions. The management company also handles all our money, puts together the newsletter and helps plan our meetings.
WSSA has grown and prospered to become one of the largest state self storage associations in the country. Our purpose in forming the organization was to provide information to its members so they could become better informed and educated as to how to operate a self storage business. Information has been given to the members by holding biannual meetings, one of which is a trade show with vendors. The trade show meeting features nationally known storage experts speaking on timely topics and small group sessions on specific problem areas. WSSA also has a web site with a members only section describing in detail such important issues as to "How to Hold a Lien Sale", and "How to Sell a Boat or a Car at a Lien Sale". The meetings give members a chance to talk among themselves to gain a wealth of information.