By Alun ThomasApril 10, 2019
PHOENIX - During the warm summer of 1998, life was at an impasse for Travis Morrow.
He had just used up the available scholarship he had for college and was a loose end trying to decide how to continue his education.
Taking a friend's advice he went to talk to a local Army recruiter, not expecting anything from it.
Before he knew it, he'd enlisted and set himself up for a career which is paying handsome dividends to this day.
Today, Morrow, acts as president, self-storage division, Strat Property Management, after serving 14 years with Arizona based National Self Storage, where he still serves as company president.
These roles seemed a long way off as he sought to continue his education that summer, desperately trying to find a way to get his finance degree.
"I graduated from Apache Junction High School in 1997. I went down to Tucson at the University of Arizona for a year on a community scholarship I had gotten from high school," Morrow said. "When that was done my parents told me they weren't exactly sure how they were going to pay for the rest of my college. At the time my best friend from high school had joined the Army right out of high school. He had just graduated basic training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and was back home doing hometown recruiting."
Eager to make some progress performing the hometown recruiting, Morrow's friend convinced him to speak to a recruiter.
"He asked me if I'd go talk to his recruiter to make it look like he'd done something on his trip back. 'No big deal,' I thought, 'I'm not going to join the Army,'" Morrow explained. "So I went to talk to the recruiter. He talked to me about the Army's college tuition program where they would pay for my college education. Within a week I had signed up."
Morrow enlisted for two years and decided to pursue a combat arms Military occupational specialty.
"It made too much sense to me, for a two-year commitment of active duty, to get the full G.I. Bill and free education. So I joined the Army in July of 1998," he said. "I went to Fort Knox, where I enlisted as a cavalry scout. I decided if I was joining the Army for two years, I wanted the full on, G.I. Joe, shoot and blow stuff up experience."
During his two years of active duty time, Morrow was able to perfect his job as a scout and experience an overseas deployment to Kuwait.
"I got out of training and was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, where I stayed for two years with the 3/7 Cavalry Squadron," Morrow said. "Right before Christmas of 1999, we went on a deployment to Kuwait for six months, where we worked with the Kuwaiti government on a plan in case Saddam Hussein came back across the border. After that I left active duty and went back to Tucson."
Morrow wasn't done with the Army yet however and continued to serve in the Arizona National Guard.
"Before I got out of the Army, part of the deal was I had to serve eight total years, in the event the Army needed me and I was called back. I thought if that's the case, I might as well stay in and get paid for it on weekends," he added. "So I ended up joining the National Guard in Tucson, which helped clear up my eight year obligation."
Unexpectedly Morrow's unit was reactivated to active duty at Davis Monthan Air Base, also in Tucson, which complicated his continued schooling efforts.
"My military and civilian life collided with each other. In the last semester of my senior year my unit was reactivated," he continued. "So what I ended up doing was working from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the flight line at the base and then go to school during the day. It was grueling, but I needed to get my diploma, that piece of paper."
Morrow persevered and obtained his degree in 2003 and pursued a career in the self-storage industry, quickly making an impact.
"I began working for National Self-Storage in Tucson. I started out as a consulting manager and worked my way up to president of that company in 2006," he said. "Then in 2017 I partnered with a friend of mine in the industry and went to work with him in Strat Property Management. We pooled our two portfolios together and have grown ever since."
The scope of Morrow's work involves managing self-storage units throughout the South West region, a fertile area for real estate, he said.
"I oversee 69 storage facilities (with one under construction) around the South West. This area is one of the hottest real estate sectors in the world. The self-storage industry does 44 billion in revenue around the world," Morrow said. "In 2018 I built my first facility that I have ownership of completely, in Marana, Arizona. It was named the overall facility of the year in the industry. That facility got a lot of attention at a recent trade show in Las Vegas."
Morrow credits his Army years for helping him attain the success he currently enjoys.
"My Army experience has played a huge role in my success in this industry. The discipline, organization and problem solving I learned in the Army, has carried through to everything I do, every day," Morrow said. "Outwardly people are surprised to learn I was in the Army, because I'm not super 'hooah'. On the inside I'm completely regimented."
The future is bright for Morrow, who said his industry continues to grow, with further expansions on the horizon.
"I'm going to continue growing this portfolio I'm running. I can see my companies going to over 100 facilities in the future,' he said optimistically. "We have financial partners who are going to help us acquire more portfolios. Self-storage is my career and I have the Army to thank for much of what I've achieved so far."