Here at Lockaway Storage, we know our success is due to our wonderful team. The care they give our renters is unparalleled and we want to highlight their milestones along the way. Below is an interview with Ann Westerman, who is celebrating her 3-year anniversary as a District Manager with Lockaway Storage.
Ann is the District Manager for all 5 Lockaway Storage locations in Texarkana, TX.
Peter: Has your job changed since you first joined?
Ann: Yes! Very much! When Don bought the three properties from the man I worked for in August 2015, I was an Area Manager overseeing 3 properties and 3 employees. I became a District Manager shortly after coming to work for STRAT and now oversee 5 locations and 6 team members, and I still manage the Pleasant Grove location full time. I have a lot of responsibilities that I did not have as an Area Manager, and I love it! I also have an excellent benefits package through STRAT that I did not have prior to coming to work for Don. It has changed for the better 1000 times plus!
Peter: Do you have advice for anyone thinking about working in self storage for the first time?
Ann: I have hired several team members that had no self storage experience, and I tell them all that it is not just a desk job. You will be outdoors in the weather, you will get dirty sometimes, and you will be part counselor, cashier, salesperson, and janitor all rolled into one!
Peter: Tell us about a renter who left an impression on you.
Ann: There have been many over the years. I have heard a lot of stories and learned so much from so many people. I guess one that sticks out in my mind the most was a lady who had come to Texarkana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She was returning a UHaul she had rented to drive here. She said the truck was empty. She told me she didn’t even have one sock left. The hurricane took everything she had, including an uncle who had died in his home. I will never forget her.
“I was working for another storage company and had been let go and Ann had called that storage company wanting to speak with me and was told that I was not with the company any longer. She asked if they knew where to find me because she needed to speak with me. They contacted me and told me she was asking for me. She said, “What are you doing?” and I told her and she said, “Would you like to come and work for me?” I didn’t even hesitate and said, “Yes, I would!” and that was 5 years ago and I am still with her. Ann is a really super lady and I thank her so much for giving me a call that day.”
Lauren Cook, Manager at Lockaway Storage on New Boston Road in Texarkana, TX
Peter: That’s heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing that with me. What makes you want to continue working with this company?
Ann: The people (my team and the owners), the benefits, and the company culture.
Peter: What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever had stored at you facility?
Ann: Most likely an RV.
Peter: Can you tell us about a time that self storage changed someone’s life?
Ann: I’ve seen people who have lost loved ones, or had to put an aging parent in a nursing home, or gone through a divorce. I would say self storage helped make these people’s lives easier.
Peter: What is it like to be a part of self storage as long as you have?
Ann: I came into this industry in 2004. I have seen it change so much. We used to do everything: from mowing the yard, to conducting our own auctions. Advertising consisted of putting a banner up and having a yellow pages ad, so it has changed a lot in 14 years. It’s amazing to see how much it has grown and evolved.
Peter: Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in becoming a manager or making self storage their life-long career?
Ann: Pretty much the same advice I give to new hires. Embrace change!
Peter: Do you have any tenants that you’ve grown close with over the years?
Ann: Yes. I have a retired dentist and his wife who have rented RV storage from me for years. I give them veggies from our garden and they bring me goodies they make. They also give us fresh jellies and jams. He and his wife taught me how to make homemade pickles from our cucumbers. There is also a special lady that I call my “Texarkana mom”. She always remembers my birthday and we love visiting with each other as often as we can.
Peter: How was your life 5, 10 years ago?
Ann: 5 years ago I had no idea working in self storage could be this good (and I thought I had it good then!). 10 years ago I was helping my husband raise a teenage son, so it had its challenges. It worked out fine!
“Ann is the sweetest, most caring boss I have ever had the pleasure of working with. She does not ask anything of her team that she doesn’t or won’t do herself. She leads by example with honesty, confidence, compassion, and intelligence. Couldn’t ask for anything more!”
Jess Young, Assistant Manager at multiple Lockaway Storage locations in Texarkana, TX
Peter: What do you like to do outside of work, do you have any hobbies?
Ann: Lots of hobbies! As I mentioned, gardening is a hobby. Flowers and veggies. My husband and I are very outdoorsy. We have a Jeep and enjoy riding off road. We also like to go to the river in our boat on hot summer weekends. We like fishing and spending time with family and friends. We also enjoy going to the movies and cooking. My husband is a hunter and we have a camp house we go to during the fall and summer weekends. I enjoy building a fire and relaxing while he hunts. I rarely get bored with life!
Peter: What is the area around the facility like and do you live there?
Ann: I have been a resident manager of the Pleasant Grove location since 2005. It is a residential area and we are right across the street from an elementary school. It is one of the nicest areas of Texarkana and we love living here.
Peter: Are there any famous sights or points of interest people should take note of when visiting your facility?
Ann: One of the most photographed places in the world is right here in Texarkana. Downtown at the courthouse you can stand with one foot in Texas and one in Arkansas. There is a sign there to note the spot.
Peter: What are your favorite restaurants around Texarkana?
“Ann Westerman is the nicest person I have ever worked for. If i have a problem and call her, she picks up the phone and is always helpful. She is great!”
Donal Smith, Manager at Lockaway Storage on Kings Highway in Texarkana, TX
Peter: If you don’t mind, tell us a little bit about your family.
Ann: I have a wonderful husband, Tony, and we have been together 15 years this month. He has two sons, and I helped him raise one. He lived with us from the time he was 12 until he joined the Navy after high school. I have one brother who is a Texas Game Warden. My parents are both retired and love to travel.
Peter: Do you have any new pets?
Ann: We have a cat named Bebe who is about 6 years old, and a new chocolate lab puppy we got on Easter Sunday. Her name is Ziggy.
Peter: Do you have any mentors outside of the self storage industry? Tell us about them.
Ann: My parents and my Uncle Max have been my greatest mentors and supporters throughout my life. Tony’s mother, Betty, has also played a large part in my life. She taught me the value of playtime.
Peter: If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Ann: PLAY MORE!