Storage units get security of Olympic proportions
By Mark Wineka
Dr. Dirk Zwiebel still dances on his feet like the welterweight boxer he was back in the 1950s, and he encourages complete strangers to squeeze one of his 78-year-old biceps.
Rock hard, it is.
Zwiebel enjoys jumping in a golf cart at Olympic Crown Storage, named in part for his boxing in the 1952 Olympic Trials, and showing off the recently installed $30,000 security system.
It was an investment in peace of mind, for him and his customers.
“I want it to be safe,” he says, “and now we have the safest. I just think it’s the right thing, the ethical thing to do, if people are putting their valuable things with us.”
After a career as a clinical psychiatrist in southern California, Zwiebel spent the early part of his retirement flying his airplane, captaining his yacht or touring the country with his wife, Alberta, in their motorcoach.
They eventually moved to Charlotte to be close to Alberta’s mother. Zwiebel bought and sold real estate and played the stock market ó not too well, he will tell you.
He wasn’t satisfied.
“I was looking for something to keep me busy,” Zwiebel says. “I got bored. The worst thing in the world is doing nothing.”
Four years ago, he bought the storage and warehouse business at the end of Bendix Drive in Salisbury, along with the Super 8 motel. He added a U-Haul rental truck business later.
Friends told him he was crazy, but he assured them it would give him something to do.
“I wanted to have fun,” he says.
When he took over, only 39 percent of the storage and warehouse units were occupied. He hired a Catawba College student at $10 an hour, and the pair began papering cars in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart SuperCenter with information about Olympic Crown Storage.
After two weeks, the Wal-Mart manager called Zwiebel in for a pow-wow and told him he would have to stop the advertising barrage. But by that time, Zwiebel and his helper had distributed some 10,000 fliers at Wal-Mart and the Innes Street Market.
Somehow the fliers and newspaper advertisements worked.
Olympic Crown Storage soon had a 94 percent occupancy rate, and it has remained above 90 percent ever since.
The business has some 600 units in various sizes, offering some 80,000 square feet of storage space in all. Zwiebel has an additional 30,000 square feet available in warehouse space, which can take deliveries by tractor-trailer.
Olympic Crown Storage covers some 8-plus acres behind the Super 8.
Zwiebel credits Eddie Arthur for putting together “the most highly advanced security system for a storage company anywhere.” That’s debatable, of course, but 18 cameras now cover the site and are capable of shooting seven frames a second.
The data can be digitally retained for more than three months.
“Everything but the bathroom is monitored,” Zwiebel says.
Views from 16 of the cameras provide a live feed to office co-managers Terri Russell and William Brown.
“I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had in my life,” Zwiebel says. “Seeing things move forward, it’s a joy.”
He drives to Salisbury from Charlotte every Monday to check up on things.
The U-Haul dealership has 18 to 28 trucks out on the road every weekend, Zwiebel says, and he takes pride in getting customers in and out in a matter of minutes.
Olympic Crown has all the dollies, boxes, wrapping materials, tapes and blankets to make moves easier, Zwiebel adds.
“The customer always comes first,” he says. “All concerns by any customer is always a top priority and is always handled in an expeditious manner.”
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