Looking Through the Lens of the Last 60 Years

Douglas and his workforce at Len’s Self Storage

On the self storage scene, few names carry as much Scottish heritage and brand recognition as Len's Self Storage. Founded in 1964 by Len Lothian, this family business has grown from a small Edinburgh office to a self storage leader across multiple locations. 


To celebrate the 60-year mark, we sat down with Douglas Lothian to learn more about Len's remarkable journey over the past six decades.


Len's back in the day with older storage units

Where Did It All Start?

The company was founded in 1964 by my father. He operated initially from a small office on Newhaven Road in Edinburgh, but he opened his first warehouse in Glenrothes, Fife in about 1966.


What Is It Like Being in a Family Business?

Family businesses can be fun — we can all get on like a house on fire or argue like cats and dogs! When I first started, I was involved in sales, actually hunting for storage business. We entered the self storage market in 1994 which was a new concept at the time. My brother had travelled to Australia and came across it. When we opened, we didn't know if anyone would use it!


What Are the Most Important Aspects of Running a Business?

It's the communication and team approach. We are only as strong as the team that ultimately looks after the customers and converts enquiries into business. It's all about teamwork and our unified mission.


What Advice Would You Give Someone Starting Their Own Business?

Get work experience — it's hugely important. Even growing up, getting part-time jobs while in school can teach you so much through different roles. When I joined our existing business, I learned immensely from my father and the management team, but also from every person I worked with. So be sure to take any job you can and branch out.


Hats off to anyone starting a new business!


What Was Your Most Pivotal Moment?

In 1984, after my father passed away, we had a non-executive director named John Smithson come in to advise us. He pointed out that in all our various business sectors, we were the smallest player in each. He suggested focusing on just one thing we could be the market leader in. That's when we went all-in on self storage and working on becoming the dominant provider.


What Are the Key Factors in Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty?

Our promise is dry, secure, and accessible storage. It may sound simple, but we constantly invest in our properties to deliver on that promise.


What Have Been the Most Significant Changes Over the Years?

When we first opened, we had only one computer and one software programme from Rip Bucks at Radical Systems, Space Manager. Now, we still have Space Manager which is integrated with our website, digital marketing, access control, dynamic pricing, and more. While the core storage product hasn't changed much, the technology driving our operations has been completely transformed!


What's Next on the Horizon for Len's?

As part of our environmental accreditation over the last few years, we've installed solar panels on three of our buildings. We've also embraced electric cars. We've got one Tesla, a couple of Minis and then a couple of hybrids.


But as part of our 60th year in business, we're putting in a Wild Meadow Garden at our head office. The solar and electric initiatives are all driven by commercial decisions, but this garden initiative has no real commercial contribution to the business. We hope to show soon what that will look like.


What Sets Len's Apart?

I think the big differentiator for us is our brand identity. With the help of the advertising agency that came up with Len’s Self Storage using the colour orange, I think that really stands out against the competition.


Len's Team Photo


Len's has been a storage staple for 60 years, keeping one foot grounded in its proud, humble origins while embracing new technologies and customer-focused changes. 

With Douglas Lothian and his team leading the way, this orange legacy seems poised to keep soaring for the next many decades to come!