Cris Burnam has been in the self-storage industry since 1987, serving as President of StorageMart since 1999. Headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, StorageMart is the largest privately owned company in the industry, with 225 locations across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, comprising approximately 15,000,000 net rentable square feet and over 134,000 rental units. Currently, as Chief Executive Officer, Cris oversees all aspects of the organization.
In 2015, Cris and the executive team at StorageMart successfully closed on the largest ever completed self-storage CMBS transaction, which was in excess of $500 million dollars. In addition, the team closed other debt financings of $510 million dollars in 2015 for a total of $1.010 billion dollars in new debt, thus successfully recapitalizing StorageMart and positioning the company for future growth.
Cris has been recognized as EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014, and was also given the 2014 Torch Award by the Better Business Bureau. Cris is listed as one of Ingram’s Magazine of One of 50 Missourians You Should Know and has been a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council since 2018. In 2008, Cris led the company in its successful $416 million dollar takeover of InStorage REIT, a publicly traded REIT on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The transaction closed in March of 2009, and has since been fully integrated in StorageMart.
In 1994, Cris and his brother Mike Burnam launched an IPO of their family owned company called Storage Trust (NYSE:SEA). Storage Trust was successfully merged into Public Storage in 1999 for approximately $650 million dollars. Over the course of his career in self-storage, Cris has completed over $5.5 billion dollars in self-storage transactions. Under Cris’ direction, StorageMart has been a thought leader in the industry, forging the way with many industry firsts, like online reservations, a 24/7 contact center, and harnessing voice technology to improve the customer journey.
Chairman and Founder, Store Friendly
Owner and CEO, Kennards Self Storage
CEO, Big Yellow Self Storage
Jim Gibson was a member of the founding management team of Big Yellow Self Storage in 1998. Big Yellow Self Storage opened its first store in Richmond in May 1999 and 21 years later owns and manages 75 Big Yellow Self Storage centres in the UK across 5.7 million sq ft NLA. Big Yellow Self Storage also manages 25 Armadillo stores across a 1.0 m sq ft platform. Big Yellow Self Storage is listed as a REIT on the London Stock Exchange in the FTSE 250.
Jim originally qualified as a chartered accountant and worked in professional services with Arthur Andersen & Co. where he specialised in the property and construction sectors, before leaving in 1989. He then worked in real estate at Heron Property Corporation until 1994, before joining Nick Vetch and Philip Burks at Edge Properties. Edge was a developer of and investor in retail warehousing and sold to Granchester Properties PLC in 1998. Together, they then founded Big Yellow Self Storage.