Thetford storage firm makes city
An entrepreneur with businesses in the west of the county has expanded into Norwich.
Simon Long has invested �500,000 in a storage unit on Hall Road, which adds to two others in King's Lynn and Thetford.
The new site includes 116 storage rooms of between 25 and 175 square feet each, and already a 'handful' of customers have signed up.
The business, 4 Secure Storage, also compliments Simon Long Removals, which began trading in 1993 and now employs 70 people with a fleet of 37 vehicles.
'We've looked at Norwich for some time as it seemed like a natural progression after Thetford and King's Lynn,' he said. 'We obviously wanted to grow the business and the way the self-storage market is means there's a bit more potential – it's another arm to the business.'
The sites include energy efficient lighting, lifts, bay access, CCTV and alarms, with five people employed in total. Both the Thetford and King's Lynn sites are, on average, 75pc full, Mr Long said, with customers already using the Norwich unit.
'While the removal business has been busy, the last few years have been tough with the housing market and the recession,' he added. 'Storage is a good business because houses are getting smaller and people are down-sizing.
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'I saw the growth in the market that came from the US and several removal companies have gone into it as an extra and we've got into it in a self-contained building.
'It's quite a significant investment but the experience we've got within the market has helped us with confidence – we know what works and we know the industry. We've only been at this particular site for a couple of months but it's going well so far. We've got the model now and know it works, so it's just a case of building it up in different areas.
'We make sure our customers are looked after and we do what we do to the best of our ability. This is a different type of business – it's a retail business.'
In August Mr Long, who began his career in the 1980s at his late father's company, Arrowdene, also invested further in the Thetford storage unit with an extra 74 storage rooms across two floors which provided an extra 3,630sq ft of space available to let.
The site now has 231 storage rooms, over 16,240sq ft, in addition to the King's Lynn unit which has 141 rooms over 9,950sq ft. He also still runs Arrowdene, an independent company that supplies facility services to the American airbases and specialises in overseas logistics, with his sister Andrea and his mother.
To develop further into the UK removals market he set up Simon Long Removals and in 2003 moved into the storage industry.