Here at A-1 Self Storage, we know our success is due to our wonderful team. The care they give our customers is unparalleled and we want to highlight their milestones along the way. Below is an interview with team member Shawn De Leon, who is celebrating her 22-year anniversary with A-1 Self Storage.
You can meet Shawn at A-1 Self Storage in Mission Valley in San Diego, CA.
Colby: Shawn, thank you so much for taking some time with us today. What year anniversary are you celebrating this year?
Colby: Well, 22 years is quite a long time to be in one place in this day and age. Had you worked in storage in any capacity before you joined A-1 Self Storage?
Shawn: No, I was a customer for four years.
Colby: Oh, so that was what drew you to the job?
Shawn: I became unemployed unexpectedly. My husband and I were both working in a warehouse and we lost our jobs on the same day. The company folded and moved to another state and none of us were asked to go. We found ourselves with a baby and no job.
Colby: That’s scary!
Shawn: Right! I was looking in the newspaper, you remember those right? I saw A-1 Self Storage was hiring and I applied.
Colby: Was it at all what you expected? Any big surprises when you first started?
Shawn: Oh yeah, I had no idea what I was in for. This is was good, because they didn’t want me to know a lot. They want to train people the way they want them trained. When I first started, we had a DOS based program, now we have Windows. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth when I first started; they were probably reading the paper! We did a lot on paper and it all kind of evolved since I’ve been here.
Colby: What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned about the industry over the years?
Shawn: Doing collections!
Colby: That’s a very important skill to have in a lot industries! That’s not always easy.
Shawn: I think it shows if you like your job. People can see that you like it and if you’re doing it well. I’d say about 99% of the people who walk in here will rent. Very few end up not renting.
Colby: That’s a pretty impressive conversion rate!
Shawn: We’re really good at our job. This is a busy facility, and we have to be on our game. We get a lot of really good reviews online.
Colby: Are there any stories that stand out that you like to tell people when they ask what your job is like?
Shawn: We meet people on the best day of their lives, or the worst day of their lives. If they can walk out of here with a smile, and we’ve helped them, I feel like we’ve done our job. People that are getting married are the happy ones. People that are getting a divorce or somebody died? That’s not a happy thing. So we have to be sympathetic. We are the bartenders of the industry, or the hairdressers. People tell us their stories, and what makes them tick. We figure out how to help them as best as we can based on what their needs are.
Colby: That’s a really interesting comparison actually. I’m sure you get a lot of personal stories told to you.
Shawn: The other day, a couple came in, the woman pulled out her wallet to pay. He ended up paying, so she put her wallet back in her purse. Once they got home, she called us and said she’d lost her wallet and that it had 500 dollars in it! She swore it was on our counter. I looked all around and couldn’t find it anywhere. I even checked all the trash cans and I could not find it. I called her back and told her. I asked her if she’d checked her car or called any of the other places they might have gone to see if it was there. Well later, we watched the security video and we saw her put the wallet in her purse! So I called her back again, and told her what we saw on the camera so she checked her car, and called back an hour later and found it under the seat in the car. She was so happy! Yesterday, she came in to make her payment and she brought me a cake she baked! I took a picture. It’s a chocolate cake that says “Thank You.”
Colby: That’s a really cool story!
Shawn: She drove like an hour and a half from home to bring it to us. This has been a good week for that kind of thing. We had an older man who came in and was really cranky with everyone, but I was able to calm him down and the next time I saw him, he brought us Starbucks coffee. Claudia, one of our floaters, was like “how did you do that?” I’ve also had someone bring us donuts this week, and another guy who just got back from the Philippines brought pot stickers.
Colby: That would be a pretty impressive haul for a year’s time, much less a week.
Shawn: It is! I love my job. I don’t take a lot of time off. I just enjoy the customers and being here.
Colby: Well, outside of storage, what are your hobbies? What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Shawn: I have a set of 20-year old twins and another boy who is 22. I love to spend time with them. I have a new puppy that’s taking a lot of my time right now. The kids are grown up, so I am reverting back to animals. I have a cat, too. I enjoy doing gardening. I’m actually re-doing our bedroom with new furniture and painting.
Colby: That’s a lot of work, but it’s kind of fun work to do too though.
Shawn: I’ve been wanting new furniture for 17 years. With the money we won from the District Distinction Award, I bought our new bed! My mom always told me that when you come into money unexpectedly, you should buy yourself something you wouldn’t ordinarily buy. That way you have something to show for it.
Colby: You probably sleep better now too!
Shawn: Yeah, it’s really nice. It’s a nice, big bed.
Colby: Around the facility, are there any local restaurants you recommend to people?
Shawn: Taco Fiesta. It’s right down the street. You get good portions for your money.
Colby: As far as the neighborhood, what advice would you give somebody moving to town?
Shawn: I live in South Bay, so I don’t live in the immediate area. It’s a little pricey in this part of town. I only live about 12 miles from the border. I’ve lived in San Diego pretty much my whole life and I like that the beach is right down the street or you can go to the mountains. There’s no snow unless you go to the mountains to find it!
Colby: Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to that’s helped you along in 22 years there?
Shawn: I’d say Stella Cook. She’s a good mentor and inspiration. She always has our back and helps us when we need her.