No Shortage of Storage Solutions
American Mobile Leasing, LLC specializes in containers and customer care
When Walmart called on a Wednesday afternoon needing a pair of 40-foot storage containers, American Mobile Leasing, LLC (AML) Co-Owner Jimmy Johnson stopped what he was doing and figured out how to meet the immediate need for the retail giant. That’s what AML does 24/7: solve storage needs for customers both large and small.
Jimmy runs the family-owned business that specializes in the rental of containers, truck trailers and office combo units. Jimmy says the company’s location in Lancaster, Ohio, about 35 minutes southeast of Columbus, gives the company a prime location to offer fast, dependable, and professional delivery to all areas of Ohio and even into surrounding states.
“We specialize in ground-level storage containers and we lease and sell to commercial and residential customers,” Jimmy says. “There are multiple container options in various sizes. We strive to maintain our containers in the best condition. We often repaint and add new decals and lettering. We consistently update our fleet to look its best on work sites. We can also convert them over to mobile offices by modifying them with the addition of windows, doors, air conditioning and heating, as well as flooring to create a complete office environment. We can lease or sell those, as well.”
An Entrepreneurial Family
In the late 1980s, Jimmy’s parents, James Johnson and his wife, Carol Johnson, started a company focused on semi-trailers. Jimmy worked for his dad during that time preparing the trailers for customer use. In the mid-1990s, James sold the company to a national firm and, as Jimmy was graduating from high school in 1998, the father/son duo decided to start a self-storage business. Jimmy’s sister, Jayme Gates, came on board in 2003.
The Johnson family grew the self- storage business to five facilities encompassing about 500,000 square feet. In 2016, they sold a few of those facilities. “That allowed mom to retire and Jayme stepped in to assume the bookkeeping role and I opted to start AML and get into the storage containers business. I partnered on that with my father and sister, who invested in the firm with me as the active owner of the company,” he says.
“Now, my day-to-day operations include buying and leasing containers, as well at dispatching, deliveries and prep work to containers. My wife, Melissa, oversees all office activities, including human resources, bookkeeping and inventory. We have about eight people on the team, including drivers, office staff and shop laborers, and we have more than 1,000 units in our inventory. We’re buying new and used units daily to grow our fleet,” he says.
Being family owned and locally operated is a big part of the company’s appeal, Jimmy says, but even more important is that the company offers around-the-clock service for all of its customers. “We are a 24-hour operation; I don’t miss a phone call,” he adds.
Jimmy believes that success is all about personalized service. “When someone calls in, a member of our team picks up the phone. That’s a benefit that customers appreciate, dealing directly with someone on-site rather than going through a dispatcher in a call center several states away. It all goes back to the company’s business philosophy of focusing on putting customers’ needs first,” Jimmy explains.
“We have always taken care of our customers, and my drivers and salespeople know that. We are here to make them happy, and our service is what got us to where we are now,” he says. “Taking care of customers is our priority, and we go out of our way to meet their needs. Last night, someone called at 8 p.m. from Hocking County Sheriff’s Office because they needed some units to house evidence from a big theft ring. So, we were able to help them out first thing this morning to get them some rentals,” Jimmy says.
Containers With Wide-Ranging Uses
About 80% of AML’s business is centered around commercial clients, with residential taking up the remaining 20%.
He says the construction industry uses the trailers on job sites for a variety of purposes, ranging from storage of building materials and furnishings to using the units for on-site offices. One of the biggest commercial uses he’s seeing growing is the use of units for storage for seasonal and overstock retail merchandise as well as for layaway purchases. For the retailers, it is more convenient to have the merchandise on their property rather than having to get it from an off-site warehouse, he adds. Among his retail clients are many big chains like Kohl’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Lowe’s.
Residential customers use the units for home remodels or for extra storage instead of a shed or a barn, he says. All of the units have pockets for air circulation, but don’t come climate controlled.
“All of the units are essentially big steel boxes of varying sizes from 20 feet long, which is the most common size, to 40 feet long,” he says. “Some have doors on both ends or just one end. One of the added benefits of AML’s containers is that they have an extra lockbox mechanism. “It’s not just a padlock. We install a special lockbox on the unit that covers the lock so intruders or thieves can’t get in to get the lock off. All of our containers also have wooden floors and are cargo-worthy with no holes in the roofs and no leaks,” he says. “Additionally, the containers are placed right on the ground with no steps or lifting required to get items inside the units. This is a big plus over semi-trailers.”
The containers are also used to support community efforts. AML contributes to various local entities, when possible, through either donations of trailers or contributions. Among the recipients of their charitable giving are school districts, local food banks and the Toys for Tots program.
“With our success in the local community, it is important that we pay it forward to those in need or to those working to improve their community through education,” Jimmy says. “We also contribute to fundraising for the nearby school and its sports teams. We’re fortunate enough to help others out, and if we can share, it also helps us get our name out.”
Jimmy is also actively looking to open new locations. “We’re looking to have two or three more locations in the next five years. We are growing as fast as we can and looking for new opportunities by targeting larger construction companies and direct customers; it all depends on the economy,” he says. “Adding more locations should help us get longer-term larger contracts for businesses.