Montreal Mini-Storage continues to aggressively expand its real estate portfolio, and has plans for significantly more future growth.
Co-founder and CEO Simon Berman told RENX it acquired 1,500 storage units in five facilities in Quebec’s Laurentians for $40 million, bringing its current portfolio to about 9,000 units in 19 facilities and eight cities in Quebec.
“We’ll be adding, over the next 12 months in our facilities that are under development, about 2,500 units,” he said. “The majority of that 2,500 will be on the Island of Montreal. Those are to be built in properties that we already own and will be expanded or converted to self storage.”
Berman said the company, which was founded in 2004, has considered expansion outside the province but for now, it has other plans.
“For the moment, we see a lot of opportunity to keep growing organically and by acquisitions here in Quebec. We have an advantage here. We’re really locally focused with a lot of knowledge that some of our competitors don’t have that we want to certainly take advantage of,” he said.
“And due to Quebec’s peculiarities, we’re uniquely positioned to grow more quickly and more aggressively than some of our competitors outside of Quebec. So we really want to focus here before we look elsewhere but we’re very, very interested in the industry. We love self-storage.”
Self-storage industry booming
Berman said the company is hoping by the end of 2025 to add another 20 locations and at least 10,000 units – both by acquisition and development in Quebec.
The company’s other co-founder is Jeffrey Climan.
The self-storage industry is booming across North America.
“There is a lot of awareness now in the Quebec market that didn’t exist in the past,” Berman said. “The United States is probably 10 years ahead of Canada and the rest of Canada is probably 10 years ahead of Quebec. The product, or the category, is just being discovered now here.
“Additionally, based on the Island of Montreal, real estate prices have risen dramatically, and people are looking for creative ways to create some space at a very affordable price point and free up some space in their home.”
He said there are a few different drivers for that. The square footage in homes that people can afford has been reduced. Condos are now smaller. Work from home has created a need for extra home office space, or people needing space because their children were taking school online.
“There’s been a mini boom due to the pandemic for sure,” added Berman. “Additionally, there’s been all kinds of relocations for people. People have rethought where and how they want to live.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re expanding so aggressively into the Laurentians. The population is growing there. They want that kind of a lifestyle and we want to make sure that we’re there to serve them.”
Montreal Mini-Storage Laurentians presence
With facilities in St-Jerome, Sainte-Adele, Val Morin and Rawdon, Montreal Mini-Storage has secured its presence in the recreational and tourist area of the Laurentians, north of Montreal, which also includes Mont Tremblant.
“More and more people are calling the Laurentians home these days and our expansion is fundamental to support their transition. We’ve designed a self-storage experience unique to the recreational demographic in the region, while integrating the value pricing and professionalism upon which our reputation was built,” explained Berman. “All these toys, they need extra space, something that we weren’t accustomed to here in Montreal.
“The fact that we will invest nearly $60 million in the region by the end of 2022 is a testament to our confidence in this exciting new market.”
Each Laurentians-based self-storage facility allows for a contactless rental experience, automated entry, clean storage units from 25 to 400 square feet, video surveillance, RV & trailer/boat parking, and on-site car and truck rentals at the Sainte-Adele location.
Berman said the company has assigned $15 million to its development budget to enhance and enlarge the existing facilities.
Parent company Avenir Immobilier
Montreal Mini-Storage is a subsidiary of Avenir Immobilier, a Canadian real-estate group focused on the development and management of industrial and commercial projects.
“We have all kinds of commercial real estate, and one of our advantages and the reason why we are pressing our self-storage growth so aggressively is because we want to be able to continue to feed our commercial real estate portfolio. We might engage with a client base today that needs 500 square feet that will grow to 5,000 or 50,000,” said Berman.
“So we have now, outside of our self-storage venture, somewhere around 1.3 million square feet of industrial and office space and we find that our commercial clients very, very frequently want to grow with us. So we really like the ability to cross-sell within the portfolio.”
Berman said Avenir Immobilier has an e-commerce fulfillment business which has also taken off. Because of that, the company launched an e-commerce storage venture called ClickSpace, as well as offering co-working space as part of its growing commercial ventures.
“We started as a self-storage player and we quickly acquired other real estate that we could roll into the venture in the future,” Berman said. “But, we quickly also found out that there was also a lot of demand from our existing clientele for other types of real estate looking for a one-stop shop.”