Glenn McWilliams Tells Us all About His Awesome Garage Condos
December 19, 2018
Erik Wolf: Welcome to our very last episode of The Denver Executive Trusted Advisor Podcast for the year and I won’t lie I’m looking forward to breaking some brand new resolutions. Twice a month 30 of Denver’s top execs gather in our top secret treehouse above the Ritchie Center to share our knowledge, share connections and to do business. And twice a month I torture one of them here with questions and silly jokes. My name is Erik Wolf and I’m with the digital marketing agency estound. We serve small and mid-sized business owners with CMO-level digital strategy, website design and development, Search Engine Optimization, pay-per-click advertising, marketing automation and so much more. Today my guest is Glenn McWilliams. He’s the owner of Garage Condos LLC. And believe it or not they actually build and sell what is essentially the world’s sexiest storage unit. I’ll let Glenn expand on that in just a minute. Glenn has more than 35 years of experience in the construction and real estate industry. He got his bachelor’s in construction management. He got a master’s in real estate development. He knows this business inside and out. So welcome to the show Glenn.
Glenn McWilliams: Thank you. Appreciate you doing this for all of us.
Erik Wolf: So before we get started and get into the guts of stuff, what in the world is a garage condo and why do people want one?
Glenn McWilliams: A garage condo is essentially a storage unit. But they’re larger, they’re a thousand square feet or so, large overhead doors so anything on the road can fit in them and people will buy these units rather than rent.
Erik Wolf: And as I understand it a lot of these are actually, as opposed to the regular storage unit that you might get it at one of the franchises or whatever, like a lot of these are like finished on the inside.
Glenn McWilliams: They are, we deliver them ready to move in with power, light, heat, water, in every unit but they can be added onto and people make them into their Man Caves or Lady Lairs or all kinds of different finish out.
Erik Wolf: Lady lairs is a new one. I hadn’t heard that one before.
Glenn McWilliams: That just came up recently.
Erik Wolf: Oh I like that a lot. Hey, ladies if anyone needs a lair I got a guy that you can call about that and he will hook you right up. So a lot of folks are using this as sort of I guess we call it premium or luxury sort of storage for things like RV’s and boats and cars.
Glenn McWilliams: It certainly can be. And we do have quite a few motorhomes and boats but mostly car collections and really just for hobbies, having a place where you can spread out your messy projects and you’ve got power, light, heat, water to use to be able to work on that stuff year round even in the winter is pretty empowering for people.
Erik Wolf: Very cool. So you got people using it, I mean do you have like artists and stuff?
Glenn McWilliams: We have a couple artist,s different facilities that have more of a studio and then some that display their artwork as well.
Erik Wolf: That is very cool. So what are some of the most, because people buy these things they can use it for whatever they want, right. What’s one of the strange ones?
Glenn McWilliams: So we have one in Littleton where the couple bought the unit primarily for their son’s baseball and they’ve got a batting cage and pitching lane that they used in there.
Erik Wolf: That is very very cool. I mean that’s, where do you put a batting cage? You call Glenn.
Glenn McWilliams: Exactly! That’s Right. We have another one that has a golf simulator in it where the father and his sons go in and got all their golf clubs in a mini fridge set up in there and they can go play Pebble Beach or Augusta or whatever they want.
Erik Wolf: And I assume people use it for storage of all kinds of things.
Glenn McWilliams: We have some small businesses that will store inventory or equipment in the units. And some people just put their junk and their stuff in these units so they can park their cars at home. That’s another use for these.
Erik Wolf: Well, jeez, you never would have considered that. You get your clean garage and your messy garage. And now now guests don’t see the messy one.
Glenn McWilliams: That’s right. We tend to collect things. In this economy and our society and so this is a good place for people to keep their stuff.
Erik Wolf: When someone buys one of these. I mean is the motivation more of having that custom experience and climate control. Or do they actually look at it as a real estate investment?
Glenn McWilliams: It’s all of the above. It is definitely, they see it as a place that really empowers them to live the life they want either by like I said clearing out their home garage or having a place that they can invite friends over and enjoy a pool table or some sort of event or even a Super Bowl game or something like that. But it is seen by almost all of our buyers as an investment.
Erik Wolf: So how old is your oldest property that you guys have?.
Glenn McWilliams: So we built the very first one in the country in fact, was built in Wheat Ridge in 2000-2002 time frame.
Erik Wolf: Once again Colorado leading the way.
Glenn McWilliams: And so that one still stands and has people that have been there since day one and a few units that have changed hands over the years. But it’s a nice great little facility and they’ve gotten better. We’ve tried to improve them along the way every time we build a new one we try to make them that much better for our customer.
Erik Wolf: That’s very cool. So I had never heard of this as a concept, I was unaware that this was a thing until I met you. How in the world do you end up in this particular business being, well I guess a garage condo innovator, not only a builder?
Glenn McWilliams: True. I feel very fortunate. I sort of always as a kid wanted to be in the real estate development construction world. I used to ride my bike to home developments and to a freeway job sites and just watch the construction and just loved it as a kid and so was glad to hear as a young high school kid that I could actually get into a college program that taught you how to work in construction and manage construction and then that master’s program was a great way to get me into the larger development world. And so I feel so fortunate to be in a business that is a real estate development business that also includes cars and a lot of great people that I get to meet.
Erik Wolf: What came before this for you? What was the step that I guess led you into this venture?
Glenn McWilliams: Again back when I was a kid. My brothers and I wanted to open a garage where we could share the space. And we never course got that to fruition, it was a pretty expensive proposition. But so when I heard of this working for a developer in Lakewood that had started this very first one in Wheat Ridge, it really resonated with me and there were all of a sudden there was an opportunity for me to jump in and I did and haven’t looked back.
Erik Wolf: What is the most outrageous feature that anyone has asked for in their garage condo. Because I assume that they’re sort of like when you’re building a house. You get the four walls and stuff like that and that doesn’t change. But then there are all sorts of stuff that you let people do on the inside. What’s the weirdest thing that someone asked you for?
Glenn McWilliams: Well you know everybody…
Erik Wolf: You don’t want to call your customers weird, I’m sorry, but what is the most interesting thing that you have been asked for?
Glenn McWilliams: So besides the sports things that go on in there, there have been several mezzanines, we’ll build a second floor and they’ll get kitchens and bars.
Erik Wolf: How tall is the ceiling that you can do that?
Glenn McWilliams: 22 to 24 feet.
Erik Wolf: Oh wow. So yeah that’s that’s a really high space.
Glenn McWilliams: The doors are 14 feet high. So like I said anything can go, anything on the road can fit in and then we’ll have people that have motorhomes and cars on the main level and then build a mezzanine above that and have a place for kind of a hang-out.
Erik Wolf: That is very cool. See now I kind of want one. So talk to me about, I would love to hear about all the different properties that you’re running out of and what you guys see for growth in the future.
Glenn McWilliams: I happened to settle in sort of the southwest part of Denver in the Ken Caryl area and had my eye on some land in the Ken Caryl Business Center for the longest time. We started with one up in Longmont after the Wheat Ridge project, one in Centennial, Highlands Ranch and now I have projects active projects in Castlerock, another one in Highlands Ranch and another one in Centennial.
Erik Wolf: Very cool. And I’m guessing that as the reputation grows more and more people are like, “Yeah I want a garage condo!”.
Glenn McWilliams: Very popular now. Since we started, kind of worked through the recession and got more units on the ground, more people have seen them and understand what they are and are interested in them.
Erik Wolf: Very cool. So this is as you are aware, The Trusted Advisor Podcast. So I’m going to ask you for some advice. If if I’m looking for a place to store, whether it’s a car or an RV whatever, what are the things that that you feel that somebody should be considering in that equation of do I rent a space and all the options there versus buying into something like a garage condo.
Glenn McWilliams: You know I think the most important thing is convenience to your home or workplace. Getting to your vehicles and back and forth from them, loading them for a trip that kind of thing. It’s important to be close by. Depending where that is, the price is important as well and the ones that are going to be more convenient to the larger population tend to be more expensive and the ones that are out in more rural areas tend to be less expensive. So if price is the main driver you’d want to be looking in some of the places like in Mead or Dacono. There are some parts north, there are some of these facilities that are out on the outskirts that are usually less expensive and the ones that are in town usually have more amenities and are a little bit more expensive.
Erik Wolf: Now other than the total value and the value is an investment and things like that, what does the cost of ownership end up being on on a deal like yours versus say, I mean obviously if I want to just rent a parking spot somewhere I can do that for you know 80 bucks a month. If I want climate control that’s that’s obviously a different equation. How do you guys stack up in that cost of ownership discussion.
Glenn McWilliams: Sure. I mean a lot of our owners will pay cash upfront. On average these units right now or about $170 dollars per square foot so 1000 square feet, 170. If you finance that you can get the price for that many square feet lower than what you’d be paying in rent. However you still have on top of your mortgage payment you’d have insurance, you’d have utilities because got separately metered utilities feeding each unit. And taxes and that kind of thing. So the cost of ownership is usually more to own but then at least you’re putting money, you’re building equity just like you would with a home.
Erik Wolf: And obviously you’re hoping that one day when you’re ready to get out of it for whatever reason that all of that extra you’re going to get back and more.
Glenn McWilliams: And appreciation has been very good over the years.
Erik Wolf: Very cool. Glenn thank you so much for joining us on the show. How can folks get in touch with you if they are so inclined.
Glenn McWilliams: Our website is just garagecondos.com. I’m firstname.lastname@example.org and phone number for me is 303-518-2353.
Erik Wolf: Well thank you again so much and thanks for listening to DEA Trusted Advisor Podcast. We will talk to you next year!