By Josephine Fuller
Public Storage is recognized as the largest self-storage company in the country. The story behind this mega-business is one of the American Dream.
B. Wayne Hughes was born in Oklahoma and raised in California during the time of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. He started out in real estate, and on a trip to Texas, he wanted to see what others in the industry were working on.
Huges found that real estate developers were making good money from building small storage facilities. He headed back to California to discuss the idea of self-storage units with his pal Kenneth Volk.
In 1972, the duo opened Public Storage, operating out of a single location.There are now over 2,800 locations across the country and Europe. Last year, Public Storage raked in $4.42billion in revenue, according to the company.
Building a fortune
By the ’80s, Public Storage was seeing $200 to $300 million annually in investments.
Hughes served as the company’s president and co-chief executive officer, before stepping into the role of sole chief executive and chairman.
He helped build up his family’s $10.2 billion empire while continually giving back to others. In honor of his son, who died in 1998 at only eight years old from childhood leukemia, Hughes created the Parker Hughes Cancer Center in Minnesota.
The center conducted research to develop drugs and treatments for children’s leukemia and cancer but ultimately had to close due to financial troubles.More recently in 2019, the Los Angeles Times revealed he had anonymously donated nearly $400 million to his alma mater, the University of Southern California. Hughes died in 2021.
A family affair
Over the years, Hughes’s children have also contributed to the business. His daughter, Tamara Gustavson, is Public Storage’s largest shareholder, owning 11% of the company.
She first started working at the business in 1983, eventually becoming senior vice president before retiring in 2003. Currently, she is listed as a trustee of the board of directors focusing on philanthropy. She has an estimated net worth of $7.3 billion, according to Forbes.
B. Wayne Hughes Jr. also began working at the company in 1983. He served as the vice president of acquisitions from 1992 to 2002 and remained on the board as a trustee until 2020. Two years after he left the vice president role, Hughes Jr. launched his own real estate company that works out of both Hawaii and California.
He too engages in philanthropy, launching the Hughes Charitable Foundation, which focuses on issues including at-risk youth, housing insecurity and education. Over the years, Hughes Jr. has grown his net worth to $1.9 million, Forbes reports.
Josephine Fuller is a reporter covering all things regarding money and consumers. She worked for E.W. Scripps as a television producer in Miami prior to moving to New York and joining The US Sun in 2022.
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