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randywong

Racing to the top of his game


Randy Scott Wong, owner of I-5 Self Storage, never settles for less;

Randy Scott Wong is a man who does not accept not being the best.  Is he ruthless? No. Does he try to bring down his opponents by being sneaky and not playing by the rules? Absolutely not. But Wong does play by being extremely meticulous, creative, and never settling for less than the best.  Being a Chinese-American man who came from an extremely supportive family, Wong was never scared of attempting something new or attaining his goals, even going into unfamiliar territory.  His experience wearing many hats as a professional motorcycle rider and instructor, a real estate attorney, a stock broker, a director of a non-profit, and a photographer eventually led him, and were stepping stones to, in a sense, his career as owner of Facility of the Year storage winner located in Tustin, Ca., I-5 Self Storage.

Prior to opening I-5 Storage in April of 2009, Wong had already made a name for himself in the Orange County and Los Angeles communities.  While studying sociology
at the University of California Davis, Wong was on the path to become a counselor, and had college jobs working as a student counselor and coordinator of peer counseling on campus.  Because counseling and social work is not as highly regarded as other avenues in Asian culture, Wong said he changed his major to other fields he was interested in, and something that may be deemed a little more acceptable in the Chinese culture, choosing to double major in psychology and economics. He later attended law school at the University of the Pacific, where he met his wife. Little did he know that this background in Psychology would eventually lead him to become a highly successful business owner.

Growing up in a Chinese-American family, Wong was always encouraged to do what he loved, as long as he enjoyed it and was the “best” at it.

“I don’t think when my dad said the ‘best’, he meant it in the traditional sense; rather he meant I put 100% into everything I do, meaning my heart, not just technical ability,” said Wong.

Wong, a father of two young boys and a self-proclaimed “family man”, definitely took this advice to heart, even including it in his application, a book filled with narrative and photos that he submitted for the 2009 Mini Storage Messenger Self-Storage Facility of the Year award, where he took first place in the conversion category.

“My goal {when I decided to go into the business} really was to win facility of the year.  I knew if I did this, I wanted to, in the end, build the finest self-storage facility. It sounds kind of silly, but that really was my goal, “ said Wong.

I didn’t know anyone in the industry, I didn’t have any ties. I had to go against the ‘big boys’, if you will. They said it was the best application they had ever received.”

Wong’s decision to open his own self-storage facility was something that sort of happened on a whim, and a decision that was actually somewhat laughed at by his comrades in the motorcycle industry.  Despite people essentially thinking he was crazy to be leaving a career of test-driving motorcycles to open a self-storage, Wong saw a great need for storage not only for people’s belongings, but their vehicles as well.

“I was National Director of the Motorcycle Safety Organization,  and I had a staff of over 100, people that were involved in recreational motorsports. My staff kept coming up to me and told me they needed to find a new place to store their vehicle.  I thought to myself, ‘That’s crazy, how difficult could it be to find a dirt lot,” said Wong.

“So I went with them and saw that there was a great need at the time for RV spaces.  So, I decided to study that market and learn about self-storage.  I had a background in real estate, so when I analyzed some business aspects of self-storage, I realized that people were willing to pay a somewhat equivalent amount to store their precious belongings as they were to house themselves.”

This endeavor was not just another notch on Wong’s “bedpost” of successes, though, and was anything but a cake walk. The six-year process to build the was an arduous one- Wong had to jump through many city hoops, municipal obstacles, nature’s fickle ways, even on-property theft of thousands of dollars of copper wire.  The renovation process to take a 30 year-old building and turn it into something brand new was definitely a challenge, but one that Wong was eager to undertake.

Wong’s creativity and background in photography definitely allowed him to develop a one-of-a-kind facility that he envisioned to be more of an experience rather than something mundane.

“I extensively studied the self-storage industry, but I didn’t limit myself to that. When I thought about my vision of what the perfect self-storage facility would be, I looked at some of the competition, but I actually went outside of the industry.  I think that was what perhaps, made us different.  I looked at what Starbucks and McDonalds’s did, for example, how they were located,” said Wong.

With 400 square feet of free advertisement off of the freeway, the extra cost of having the perfect location proves to be worth it every day, as customers frequently come in and say that they decided to house their belongings there because they see it every day while driving down the highway.

Another thing that Wong wanted to make sure of was that the facility was branded.  He thoroughly studied industries outside of self-storage, including hospitality and restaurant chains.

His business-minded outlook paired with his creativity allowed one of the finest storages in

California to emerge, one that customers really appreciate.

“The color coding [that I use] was something I had never seen, but I got that idea from hospitality, 5-star hotels, and the Disney experience. I mean, who treats their customers better than DisneyIand?” said Wong.

“I thought about what Disney did, and the way they have all the lands.  I said, why not make every area themed, and I named it after world-renowned, international race tracks and then I made street signs named after cars and designers, like BMW way.”

A people person and always aiming to please and to make things the easiest possible for the people he works with, the storage facility includes many ameneities that rival any 4-star hotels, such as personal and business storages available, allowing storage of a business’ full inventory, free wi-fi for customers, a conference room available for use, work stations, and free coffee.

At about 55% occupancy right now, considering the facility has about double the amount of spaces as a regular self-storage facility, it looks like I-5 Storage, and Wong, will continue zooming down that highway top speed for many years to come.

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