October 3, 2023 | Rebecca Scott for Travel Phoenix Oregon
Building a self storage facility from the ground up is a labor of love. But it’s one that Mark and Kathleen Kellenbeck embarked on because they wanted to create a clean, safe and home-like environment where people could securely store their most precious belongings.
After five years of hard work, Storage at Exit 24 opened in Phoenix in March 2018. In addition to being a self storage facility, they also have packing and moving supplies available and the ability for customers to rent U-haul trucks from the facility.
An extension of home
Bringing their new business to fruition took time and dedication, especially as Mark and Kathleen encountered different hurdles, such as finding the right place to build. Once they located an appropriate piece of property, they were shocked to see it was in such terrible shape.
“The property used to be an eyesore for the neighborhood. My husband wanted to rehabilitate Payne Creek and the wetlands that were buried under nine feet of trash,” said Kathleen. “We wanted to be good stewards of the land.”
In addition to bringing a new business to the community, Mark and Kathleen desired to create an environment infused with their love for Phoenix. They wanted to build a storage facility where people felt they could safely and comfortably store their belongings.
Prior to building Storage at Exit 24, Mark worked in property management. He’d always been passionate about affordable housing, and held a special place in his heart for seniors and people with lower incomes.
“Mark has always believed that everybody deserves a respectable place to live,” Kathleen said.
After Mark sold his property management company, he and Kathleen were deciding what the next phase of their life would look like. Some of their friends—who had worked in the storage industry for generations—suggested they look into it. The idea spoke to the couple, especially because it meshed well with their desire to help people.
When Storage at Exit 24 opened in 2018, Kathleen worked as the operations manager. She held that position until Ken Shepard took over about 1.5 years ago.
For Ken, working at the storage facility carries a lot of meaning, especially after the Almeda fire.
“You hear people’s stories and while many of them have gotten back on their feet, some haven’t,” he said. “We know it can be stressful to put your belongings in storage, so we want to make the transition easier for people.”
Seasons of change and growth
For Kathleen and Mark, their journey of building and owning Storage at Exit 24 has been a positive and impactful experience. Even amidst various struggles from the pandemic and the Almeda fire, they’ve seen Phoenix and its residents rise and thrive.
“It’s been rewarding to watch Phoenix grow and rebuild, and know that from those challenges, new life and opportunities were birthed,” she said.
Kathleen and Mark are also grateful for Ken and Jason with West Coast Self Storage, who are now taking care of the property and tenants.
“Ken and his team are an extension of our hearts and minds, and we’re grateful they’ve partnered with us to offer this service to the community,” said Kathleen.
Over the years, Kathleen and Mark have loved many aspects of their business, but especially the opportunity to make genuine connections with their customers.
“We’ve been well received by the community,” said Kathleen. “Since the beginning, we’ve believed a storage facility could be a healing center that gives people a safe place to land.”
In top photo (left to right): Mark and Kathleen Kellenbeck, Ken Shepard, Jason Michaels