Case study: Hepworth Self Storage

Age is no barrier for entrepreneurs, Gavin and Marion Platt-Hepworth. In their fifties, the couple approached RSM for assistance to assess the feasibility of setting up a self-storage facility in Yass NSW.

Over the last 20 years their business has flourished. The couple have expanded the facility, and recently welcomed their family members into the business to continue its growth and legacy.

Case study: Hepworth Self Storage


A gap in the market for regional self-storage

After living and working in Sydney for most of their lives, husband and wife Gavin and Marion Platt-Hepworth decided to make a tree change. They moved to Goulburn in 1990 and established their own sheep and cattle farm.

The quiet life provided an opportunity to indulge their creativity, which led the couple to contemplate launching their own self-storage business.They moved to Goulburn in 1990 and established their own sheep and cattle farm.

Unsure where to start or if the idea was even feasible, Gavin and Marion approached RSM’s business advisory team.

“We wanted to understand the market for self-storage and how the business might operate,” says Marion. “We also needed advice on how to deal with the banks and prepare a finance application.”

In 2001, Gavin met with Thomas Skeffington, Director of Business Advisory at RSM in Goulburn. Together, they carried out business modelling and prepared a business plan to present to the bank for financing.


Strong foundations enable solid growth

Once they had successfully secured finance, Gavin and Marion established their first self-storage facility in Yass.

Since then, Hepworth Self Storage has gone from strength to strength. They now have a second storage facility in the region, with two further sites to be constructed in the next 24 months.

“The self-storage industry has grown over the years, particularly in regional areas where the cost of land is lower than metropolitan centres,” says Gavin. “Regional areas are highly sought after, particularly those that have good access to road networks and aren’t too far from larger centres.Since then, Hepworth Self Storage has gone from strength to strength. They now have a second storage facility in the region.

“With living densities increasing and affluence on the rise, people tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. They want a place to store furniture, files, sporting equipment, and memorabilia – and they want to do that in a facility that is secure, safe, clean, and well run.

“Self-storage also needs to be accessible, which is why we established our first facility in Yass. It’s just outside Canberra and on the main road between Sydney and Melbourne. It was the perfect site for our business.”

Throughout their business journey, Gavin and Marion have relied on RSM to assist with everything from general bookkeeping to tax compliance, finance applications and succession planning, as well as being a trusted adviser and sounding board for business challenges and opportunities.

“Running a self-storage facility takes time and effort,” says Marion. “We engage with people from all walks of life, and are proud to have created more jobs for locals.

“The support we have received from RSM over the years has been wonderful. Michelle (who has worked as a bookkeeper at RSM since 1982) assists with our bookkeeping and wages. She works tirelessly, efficiently, and is so generous with her time. She has also helped us streamline processes, and trained us on new technologies so we’re more efficient.”


Creating a family legacy

With a successful business model at the heart of operations, Hepworth Self Storage is on a trajectory towards impressive growth.

Marion and Gavin’s children have since joined them in the business and are working towards building additional sites. Although he lives in the United States, Hugh (their son) has his parents’ drive. He navigates the time difference to negotiate with councils, builders, and banks over the phone and through email.

He also worked with RSM’s team as they set about restructuring the business to ensure it provided the best foundations for growth and the family’s future.

“RSM mapped out a structure that would account for future growth, keep our risk profile as low as possible, and create flexibility to accommodate for the needs of different family groups,” says Hugh. “The restructure will make life simpler for Mum so that, at 75 years old, she doesn’t have to work quite so hard.”

Of working with the family to support the establishment and growth of Hepworth Self Storage across the past decade, Thomas Skeffington from RSM says, “We are here to support the whole family at every step, and look forward to continuing the journey. What they have achieved is very impressive, and their drive to provide quality self-storage in our regional areas is inspiring.

“With other family members coming on board, maybe we will finally see Marion and Gavin take the break they deserve… at least for a little while!”.

“RSM provide wonderful support to us. We feel like we are part of the family and they are part of ours.”

For further information

To speak with a property and construction specialist from RSM, please contact your local RSM office.

Authors

Thomas Skeffington
Partner - Goulburn