On-demand self-storage is coming to Madison and its surrounding communities for the first time.
Doorage Storage Solutions, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary, officially expanded from Chicago to Madison and its surrounding communities on March 25. It’s the first wave of expansion for Doorage, which will serve Madison residents, plus those living in Middleton, Fort Atkinson, Stoughton and Pine Bluff, and even those as far south as Janesville and Whitewater.
“Great markets like Madison are underserved and overlooked, and we want to bring innovation, new ideas and an easier process for moving and storage to this market,” Doorage Storage CEO Sean Sandona said.
Sandona said the expansion will create up to 50 jobs – from mover/packer, route drivers and logistic team members to customer service representatives — within the next 5 years. Doorage is currently recruiting to fill 5 jobs in the Madison market.
Sandona said strategic plans call for storage facilities to be dispersed throughout the greater Madison area. Doorage’s goal within 5 years is to have a total of 300,000-500,000 square feet of commercial warehouse property within the Madison area. Specific locations cannot be disclosed due to security of stored contents, but the facilities will be in the Madison area.
How Was Doorage Work?
The full-service storage company, which has never lost an item in storage and stores owners’ belongings in numerous 100,000-cubic-unit, Amazon-esque facilities, features several key components, including:
- Owners never having to leave their home to store belongings. Doorage employees will pick up belongings and box them as well if customers request it. Doorage also will bring packing crates to customers’ homes.
- Doorage charges by exact cubic volume consumed, instead of charging for a certain-sized storage rooms that usually aren’t filled completely.
- Customers can request specific items like a painting to be returned by Doorage employees by utilizing a user interface that shows every item in storage.
- Price for customers will never increase as long as they are storing the belongings.
“I love looking at true problems, analyzing other companies’ downfalls, all their negative reviews, and then building a business around those failures, and that’s what we’ve done with Doorage. We figured out all the others’ failure points, and we built a business around fixing all those problems.”
Doorage donates one percent of sales to after-school programs in Chicago and is looking for similar philanthropic ventures in the Madison area that would like to receive donations.
Sandona, whose father was an agent for Madison-based American Family Mutual Insurance for 27 years, has numerous Wisconsin connections. He’s spent numerous summers fishing in Racine and Kenosha, and as a poker player, competed in countless games off-campus with friends who were students at Wisconsin-Madison. He said Madison was always going to be part of Doorage’s first expansion wave.
Student Storage With Doorage
Sandona has been focusing Doorage’s efforts on the college housing market, especially for students who want to store their belongings over the summer, in addition to business and home storage consumers. Doorage serves hundreds of students at numerous Chicago-area universities and will serve students at University of Wisconsin and Edgewood College in Madison, plus University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
“Students are huge for our business,” Sandona said. “We offer multiple moveout and move-in days versus just one, and we’re up to 60 percent cheaper than other national brands for student storage. And we take the whole headache of moving out over the summer and moving those belongings back in the fall, so the students never have to bring those belongings home.”
Sandona dealt with similar headaches when he was a student at Northeastern Illinois University, where he also worked several full-time jobs and owned a handyman business he said earned him about $30,000 a year. It also allowed Sandona – who grew up in a blue-collar home and didn’t own a pair of Nikes until he was 12 years old – to buy a new Chevrolet Silverado and 25-foot Bayliner Cabin Cruiser boat upon graduation.
How Did Doorage Get Started?
That business would evolve into All Pro Homes, which prospered until the housing crash in 2007. Sandona would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy that year, and in 2008, he nearly died when his Lake Zurich, Illinois home burned down in an electrical fire. Sandona was in the hospital for two days with carbon monoxide poisoning and when he was discharged from the hospital, he had no possessions other than his four dogs who also survived the fire.
“I had lost everything,” Sandona said. “But when I got out of the hospital, I told myself I was never going to quit.”
In 2009, he founded Elk Grove Village, Illinois-based North Village Companies and North Village Snow Management, which provides commercial snow and ice management services and specialty construction services. The companies have flourished and gave Sandona the flexibility and capital to create Doorage, which has seven current full-time employees and will add dozens more to accommodate the expansion into Madison and its surrounding areas.
“We’re bringing a fresh, new approach to storage to this great metropolitan area that is underserved because they are not viewed as epic-sized metro areas that other companies focus as their targets,” Sandona said. “Storage is a need of our society. Now we’re created a storage solution that frees up more time for things that matter.”