Inside the Self-Storage Industry with Jacob Vanderslice of Van West Partners


Guest: Jacob Vanderslice is a real estate investor and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He is the founder of Van West Partners, a real estate investment firm that specializes in self-storage facilities. Jacob has an extensive background in residential fix and flips, multifamily, adaptive reuse retail, and town-owned development, but his passion lies in the self-storage business. Jacob explains the reasoning behind his shift towards storage, the company’s investment philosophy, and how they create value in their facilities.


Big Idea:  Real estate investor and entrepreneur Jacob Vanderslice shares his expertise in self-storage investment. Jacob discusses his journey in real estate investing and how his company, Van West Partners, moved from single-family rentals to self-storage investments. He emphasizes the importance of creating value through income streams and optimizing unit mix for maximum revenue. Jacob also talks about his investment philosophy, which centers around value-add investments in growing markets.





Daniel: Okay, nice. Yeah, I’m in Chicago. As listeners probably know. Figure maybe we’ll start with the evolution or the reader’s digest version. Maybe a little bit about who Jacob is, but then also VanWest and kind of how your personal career and your business model evolved to the point where they’re at today in 2022.

Jacob: Certainly. Well, it’s all been accidental and I guess unintentional to a degree like most things are. We started investing real estate full-time in about 2006, and we cut our teeth doing lots and lots of residential fix and flips. We did a bunch of rentals. We did buy, fix and sell deals. We did almost probably 1200 of them over a fairly long period. We really started in 06 and kind of kept going in that business until about we had some overlap, but kind of started to quiet it down in about 19 as deal flow constricted and returns kind of went down. So that’s how we cut our teeth. Just buying residential homes at the auctions and fixing them up, making them better, and either running them out or selling them. We’ve also done a fair amount of multi-family adaptive reuse, retail, some for-sale townhome development, and we got in the storage business in 2015. And we looked at storage for a while, and we like the fact that it’s historically downside protected.

It’s got durable recurring revenue streams. It’s scalable, repeatable, defensible. So we researched it for a while and we kind of jumped in head first on our first deal. We did a ground-up development project here in Denver, and then we did a few other development projects locally, and then we opened up the Milwaukee market starting in about 2016 just north of you. We did a handful of deals out there. And over time, I mentioned accidental earlier. Over time, I just kind of evolved to becoming our main line of business. The residential business is great. Fixed and Flips is a great business. But one of the things we didn’t like about it is it was I guess overly transactional, meaning you’re buying, selling over and over and over again. And to make money, you constantly have to be buying a deal, making it better than selling it. And we wanted to shift to a business that was more cash flow focused versus a quick reversion focused. And that’s why we landed on storage. And through today, we’ve got 38 storage facilities, about 275 million in asset center management all over the country, Midwest, southeast, south, got some stuff in Denver, and we’re buying more and we’re building more.


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Jacob Vanderslice & I Discuss the Self-Storage Industry:

  • The evolution of Van West Partners’ investment strategy

  • The state of the US real estate market and the impact of COVID-19

  • The role of technology in the real estate industry

  • The potential impact of government policies on the market

  • The outlook for the real estate market in the near future


Relevant Episodes: (There are 219 Content Packed Interviews in Total)


The transcript of this episode can be found here.
Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

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