Look Who’s Talking – Tron Jordheim, founder of the Self Storage Hawaii unConference

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There’s an old proverb that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Travel Association, that all-to-familiar saying doesn’t dissuade more than half of Americans from leaving vacation days unused each year. Despite the fact that more than two-thirds of American workers reported feeling at least moderately burned out in a recent study conducted by market research firm Destinations Analysts, the average unused paid time off (PTO) in 2021 was 4.6 days.

Why aren’t American workers taking their much-needed PTO to recharge their batteries? The latest annual “State of American Vacation” report from the U.S. Travel Association says the primary reason American employees don’t use vacation days is a “fear of looking replaceable.”

But what if you could rest while strengthening your business and making new connections within the self-storage industry? Thanks to the Self Storage Hawaii unConference, you can do all those things and more. 

A Conference Like None Other
After three successful Self Storage Hawaii unConferences, the industry’s most “un-conferencey” conference is back again this October for another round of R&R and R of I (rest and relaxation and rejuvenation of ideas).  

The 2022 Self Storage Hawaii unConference, brought to you by the Inside Self Storage World Expo, will be held Oct. 17 to Oct. 21, 2022, at the beachfront Marriott Waikoloa Resort and Spa on the Big Island of Hawaii. 

Per the unConference’s website, www.hawaiiunconference.com, “You’ll have the opportunity to get to know amazing people who can give you insights that will put you miles ahead of your competitors and help your self-storage business reach its full potential. The unConference format allows you time to learn, time to network, and time to get to deeper conversations.”

Tron Jordheim, founder of the Self Storage Hawaii unConference, builds on that notion, saying that those connections and insights are “invaluable” and made possible due to the “intimate and personal nature” of the now-annual event. 

Aside from registering, Jordheim jests that there’s only one prerequisite for participants: They have to be able to slow down a bit to fully reap the benefits of the unConference’s unique format and unforgettable atmosphere. For that reason, he encourages attendees to arrive early to “get into the Aloha spirit” at Waikoloa Beach. 

“There’s something about the air,” Jordheim says about the location. He adds that it is “pretty amazing” to be standing on lava rock and surrounded by the soothing ocean.   

In addition to the calming crystal-blue waters, exotic flowers, and breathtaking beaches of Hawaii; the upscale luxuries and countless amenities of the Marriott Waikoloa Resort and Spa; and the numerous unique experiences to be had, the unConference offers a format unlike any self-storage conference you’ve ever attended. With structured mornings, unstructured afternoons and evenings, limited attendance, and no trade show, this setup is anything but ordinary. 

Experts In Residence
Although there is no trade show at the unConference, vendor sponsors actually present (and join in) the discussions as “experts in residence.” 

“Sponsors are attendees like everyone else,” says Jordheim, adding that this “helps take down the owner/vendor barrier.”

“They have so much info to share,” he says, pointing out that many vendors are facility owners and/or investors in self-storage. 

“A presenter or expert in residence will use 15 minutes to frame the question or topic,” the unConference website states. “That will be followed by 20 minutes of open discussion. We’ll limit each comment from attendees to two minutes each. Then we’ll take five minutes for wrap-up and conclusions.”

This provides all attendees and vendors with new perspectives, enabling them to make suggestions and take away insights that may not have come about in a more traditional, time-restricted conference/trade show setting. The unConference intends to nurture deeper dialogues among self-storage professionals who share one common goal: to help their self-storage business reach its full potential. 

This year’s scheduled session topics include how to drive more customers to your stores and convert them to tenants, presented by Brian Massey, founder of Conversion Sciences LLC and author of the book Your Customer Creation Equation; self-storage management and auditing, which will be led by Carol Mixon, president of SkilCheck Services, Inc.; sustainability as a business strategy, presented by Dan Morisaku, a board member of the Self Storage Association Asia and senior member of Ichigo and Storage Plus; how to align your goals with various business partners, which will be led by Howard Pryor, a developer and operator who runs the SpareSpace Storage brand; advanced tax strategies, presented by Rick Pendykoski, self-storage investor and leader of Self Directed Retirement Plans, LLC; and other interesting issues that unConference attendees can help choose by completing an interest survey through SurveyMonkey.  

The unConference will feature a special guest as well: Danny Akaka, Jr., vice president and director of the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, who educates the public about Hawaii’s culture and history. He attended the 2009, 2011, and 2021 Self Storage Hawaii unConferences to help attendees “get a better feel for the marvelous places and the wonderful people of the Hawaiian Islands.”

An Amazing Agenda 

As for the agenda, the unConference unofficially kicks off Monday morning (Oct. 17) with an optional snorkel cruise. This requires separate registration and costs $159 per adult. Attendees also have the option to participate in a stargazing tour, luau, and/or sunset cruise Monday evening. 

On Tuesday, there will be a welcome reception and Kure It fundraiser with light appetizers and a cash bar. UnConference attendees may choose to take a trip to the nearby volcanos or play some golf as well.    

Then, on Wednesday morning, the unConference will commence with a new way of enjoying breakfast. “Each of our experts in residence will host a breakfast round table on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday,” says Jordheim. “Attendees will be able to have breakfast with one of the experts in residence and receive a $25 voucher towards breakfast.”

The unConference’s morning sessions and afternoon networking will follow breakfast on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Attendees will be encouraged to form small groups for lunches those days as well. “We’ll have a restaurant list for lunches and dinners,” says Jordheim. “Several places are within a 10-minute walk.”

While there are numerous opportunities for networking and talking shop, there’s an equivalent amount of time for fun in the sun. The interest survey on the event’s website includes a long list of possibilities, such as a beachside drawing class, horse trail rides, coffee farm tours, lava field tours, cultural tours, culinary tours, paddleboarding, and luaus. In addition, Carol Mixon will be giving tours of a few self-storage facilities on the island that she developed. 

“Last year we did a luau together, which was a lot of fun,” Jordheim says. “We will have luaus available again in 2022. There will be two opportunities to attend the luau on the Marriott grounds. They do luaus every Monday and Wednesday evening. If you have not been to a luau, it’s a lot of fun. It is a great celebration of the Hawaiian and Polynesian foods, cultures, music, and dance.”

He goes on to say that the 2022 unConference will also feature a second reception on Thursday night “to share stories of some of the adventures we’ve had on the Big Island and talk more about the issues that concern us while we get to know our new friends better and have a chance to reconnect with our old friends.”

A Beautiful Time
Undoubtedly, there is no other self-storage conference that can help you avoid burnout and bring home more bacon quite like the unConference. “2022 is going to be a great experience and a very valuable investment for the future of your business,” says Jordheim.  


Moreover, it’s sure to be a manawa nani (beautiful time), so don’t miss your chance to network with your self-storage peers in paradise! Aloha!

Erica Shatzer is the editor of Mini-Storage Messenger, Self-Storage Now!, Self-Storage Canada, and MiniCo Publishing’s annual Self-Storage Almanac

Register Today!

Space is limited to 100 attendees, so visit https://hawaiiunconference.com/register-1 to reserve your spot in paradise. Use coupon code “ministoragemessenger” to receive a $100 discount. Registration will be open until all the slots are filled or the end of September, whichever comes first.  

To make room reservations at the Marriott Waikoloa Resort and Spa, visit https://book.passkey.com/event/50303309/owner/51680/home. Jordheim mentions that space within the hotel room block is limited as well. As of the end of April, one-third of those rooms had been reserved. 

Sponsorship Opportunities
The 2022 Self Storage Hawaii unConference is only four months away, but sponsorship opportunities abound. As of early-May, event sponsors include:

  • Mini-Storage Messenger
  • ISS World Expo
  • Janus International
  • Storage Structures, Inc. 
  • Cover Roofing Solutions
  • CallPotential
  • SelfStorageAuction.com
  • Call Here
  • Store Here Self Storage
  • SkilCheck Services, Inc.
  • Conversion Sciences
  • California Self Storage Association (CSSA)
  • Jordheim Consulting
  • Self Storage Strategies

There are several different tiers of sponsorships available: Supporting Sponsor at $500, Lava Level at $1,000, Surfside Level at $2,500, Ocean Breeze Benefactor at $5,000, and Koa Wood Champion at $10,000. To become a sponsor, visit www.hawaiiunconference.com or contact Jordheim at Tron@selfstoragestrategies.com.

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