Foy Cooley, former president of the national and the New York Self-Storage Associations, was profiled in North Jersey’s The Record on Sunday. Cooley, who The Record describes as “the first lady of self-storage,” is one of the few female executives in an industry which tends to be dominated by men. In addition to having been the president of the national and New York Self Storage Associations, Cooley currently serves on the board of the New Jersey Self Storage Association.
Cooley and her husband, Ken, opened the New York area’s first self-storage facility in 1976 — 33 years ago. Now she is the head of Access Self Storage Inc, which has an annual revenue of $19 million. Access owns and/or manages 19 facilities in New Jersey and New York, and has just opened up a new facility in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. This year, she was inducted into the National Self Storage Association Hall of Fame.
In her interview for The Record, Cooley says that in 1976, there were no self-storage facilities in New Jersey or New York. She happened to see one in North Carolina while she was visiting her grandmother. In those days, the idea of self-storage was so alien that when she and her husband went to a bank to get financing, the bankers did not understand the concept. They had never heard of self-storage. But Cooley and her husband were not unprepared to enter into a venture of this sort. Cooley had graduated from Sweetbriar College in Virginia with a major in economics, and she and her husband were both former Wall Street analysts. They felt they knew what they were doing, and they managed to convince the bank that they did, too.
In the more than 30 years that she has been in the business, Cooley has seen self-storage used for all kinds of things. Even people who live in big houses, says Cooley, end up needing self storage at certain times in their lives. She describes the many ways in which people use self-storage:
“They need them for times when the children move back home for a while, after college….When they redecorate or renovate, they put all the fine furnishings into a self-storage center where they’re protected. We have people who store their pool furniture — it comes in the fall and goes back out in the spring. And there are more people working at home. If they have samples, or equipment, or inventory that they work with, they’ll have put that in self-storage….In the Eatontown facility, we had somebody who stored all the parts of a little tiny helicopter and he built a helicopter in his space. Mostly — 60 percent to 70 percent of it — is just household furnishings.”