Retire at 53, that was the goal.
But a decade later Pat Maloy, owner of Maloy Mobile Storage, is still putting in 70-hour weeks and loving it.
“I enjoy what I do every day. I like the challenges,” Maloy told the Albuquerque Journal. “Building the custom containers, designing them, is really fun.”
Albuquerque-based Maloy Mobile Storage specializes in selling, renting and modifying shipping containers. The 34-year-old company has turned the containers into classrooms, offices, mobile testing facilities for research departments, a prototype for a portable rocket launcher and even a six-story repelling tower for military training purposes.
“There’s just so many different uses for containers, whether it’s a coffee shop or whether it’s a high end government project,” Maloy said.
The company’s clients include Los Alamos Labs, Sandia Labs, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and Raven Defense as well as retailers and residents simply looking for storage solutions.
In 1988, with almost a dozen years of experience in the shipping ports of Alaska and just two storage containers, Maloy and his wife Mary Beth started their business. At that time, there were only four people working at Maloy Mobile Storage and all were family. Now the business employs 38 people and could easily take on eight more, Maloy said.
Several of Maloy’s employees stayed with the company until their retirement, and several more have been with him for over two decades. In addition to good pay, good benefits and set hours, he thinks his longtimers enjoy the variety that custom work entails. Like himself, they draw satisfaction from seeing their projects — nearly each one unique — move from start to finish.
“There’s a challenge in not building the same thing every day,” Maloy said. “You’re doing something new. … There’s a lot of diversity in what you do and what the container’s being used for.”
While the Maloys don’t have an official succession plan, one of their three daughters joined the company earlier this year. The plan is for her to learn many aspects of the business and possibly take over someday, Maloy said.
“It will run differently without me, that’s for sure,” Maloy said of his eventual retirement. “But I just work to train people to take it and work with it and do the job.”
You mentioned that you like the company’s current size. Why wouldn’t you want to be bigger?
“Because I’d just have to work more hours. Sometimes getting bigger isn’t more profitable. … I’m 63, and I’m kind of content with where we are at and the business we do. … When you start getting too big, too many shops, too many employees to manage, honestly, I think your profitability goes way down. You gotta stay in balance.”
You now employ almost 10 times the number of employees you started with. To what do you attribute your company’s growth?
“We do a good job. We do what we say we’re gonna do. We try and keep every customer happy. It’s not always easy. You always got a few of those customers you can’t keep happy. But for the most part, we have so much repeat business. We get so many referrals. … We don’t knock on doors. We don’t cold call. We don’t send out flyers. Just pretty much reputation. And we kind of live off our reputation, do a good job for anybody that we can. We turn out a good product. We make these custom containers — we’re almost continually sole sourced because people want us to do it. … They like working with us. We’re flexible with changes and things like that that they want to do.
“We built a huge customer base. Probably 80% of it’s in the state of New Mexico and 20% is probably outside. We ship containers all over the United States. But not just the basic containers. If we’re going to ship one somewhere around the United States, it’s usually something that’s been heavily modified. A lot of the companies we work for have locations all over. … We have more coming to us than we can handle.”
What are some of the key moments in Maloy Mobile Storage’s history?
“One of the biggest things that helped our business grow in the early days was a fax machine, believe it or not. When fax machines came out, we could instantly put quotes together and send them out to people immediately. Whereas in the past, we used to have to put it in an envelope and mail it. And it took forever. When we got into the fax machine, that changed our business to where we had just incredible growth, just having a fax machine. Of course, now it’s obsolete because email has taken it over. But all that is is kind of an extension, if you think about it, to a fax machine. We put a quote together, stick it in the machine and send it. Email’s the same thing. The fax machine was huge. Changed our business, putting quotes out very quickly to people and then getting orders back very quickly.
“Then, probably the second biggest thing that really changes is … I bought land here off Comanche which is within eyeshot of where our shop used to be. We moved over here, and we built. I designed my own shop, office building — everything exactly the way I wanted it. And moving into a lot bigger facility, more professional looking, a nicer facility, dramatically expanded our growth also. … It showed you were more professional, you were actually in business. You’re not just fly-by-night. You’re established. People see us, can compare us to our competitors that were working out in a dirt parking lot — no shops, no facilities, no paint booths, no nothing. It just set us apart from our competition. … People pull up to our facility — and you’re gonna spend thousands of dollars buying a container, depends on the size how much — but when you’re gonna spend thousands of dollars, you want to have that feel good that you’re buying from a reputable business.”
What are some of the challenges and what are some of the rewards of working with family?
“Most people can’t do it. But we’ve always done very well with working together every day and living together. We kind of do two different sides of the business. (Mary Beth) does the bookkeeping and the financial side of it. I do all the operations side of it such as the sales, running all the shop people and drivers, and that kind of stuff. I handle all that. … I don’t get into her side of the business, she doesn’t get into my side of it. I don’t know a lot of people that can do, you know, work together with your spouse all the time. It’s challenging.”
What advice would you have for a couple that wanted to start a business together?
“The best thing we ever did was get away. Because if you didn’t get away on the weekends, I just ended up down here at work all the time. … Getting out, getting away to different environments. Get out in remote places. There’s no TV, no radio, no nothing. It’s kind of nice to get away from all that. I think that helps a lot in relationships too.”
About the business
Business name: Maloy Mobile Storage
Leaders: Pat and Mary Beth Maloy, co-owners
Industry: Shipping container rentals, sales and custom modifications
Physical HQ address: 535 Comanche NE
Year established: 1988
Number of employees in year established: 4
Number of employees today: 38