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Meet The Team
About Universal Storage Group
We are a Self Storage Industry Leader in Management, Consulting, Training, and Developmental Services. Launched in 2013 as Universal Storage Group (Combining the forces of Universal Management Company founded in 1993, and RES Management founded in 1977 as the Heyward Companies), USG is a blend of two of the industry’s best and brightest teams, creating a self-storage powerhouse that is now the #25 Top Operator in the annual list published by Mini-Storage Messenger, and the #30 Top Operator in a similar survey by Inside Self-Storage.
USG is governed by a world-class Board of Directors, including high-ranking officers and leaders from several national companies outside the self-storage industry, creating a high-caliber think-tank poised for growth and success. Our Leadership Team is first-rate, representing over 130 Years of combined industry experience and achievement. Our teams and clients directly benefit from our guidance and the Solutions we provide.
Anthony J Ross
President and Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Team
Hometown: Lancaster, OH
Hobbies: golf, racquetball, and my daughters.
People who have inspired me the most: My ParentsRead Full Bio
Bio: President and financial leader with over 16 years’ experience driving profitable growth in a Fortune 500 consumer products company and five years public accounting experience with Ernst & Young LLP. Trusted partner, passionate and strategic thinker with exceptional communication skills; able to achieve outcomes believed to be impossible. AJ earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The Citadel, and a Masters in Business Administration from Capital University.
M. Anne Ballard
President of Training, Marketing, and Developmental Services, Leadership Team
Hometown: Easley, SC
Hobbies: Reading, Hat collecting, Atlanta Braves Baseball, Words With Friends
People who have inspired me the most: my mother and fatherRead Full Bio
Bio: Anne was the founder and president of Universal Management Co., in addition to former president and several-term board member of the Georgia Self Storage Association. Anne co-authored the original copyrighted rental and employment agreements for Georgia. She also assisted in executing two changes to the Georgia self-storage statutes. Anne was integral to the planning, design and operation of USG’s numerous “Facility of the Year” Award-winning storage facilities. Anne served on the national Self Storage Association’s board of directors. She frequently speaks at industry events, and is known worldwide as The Hat Lady.
Albert Heyward, III
Chief Development Officer, Leadership Team
Hometown: Columbia, SC
Hobbies: Golf (soon), Hunting, Boating, Travel
People who have inspired me the most: My Father, Albert R. Heyward II; My Brother In Law, Herbert F. Rothschild; My Mentor, Joseph A. Gibbes; My Long Term Business Partner, James W. Cantey.Read Full Bio
Bio: Born in Columbia, SC in 1945, educated locally and in Jacksonville, Fla., (The Bolles School), graduated college with a BA in History from The Citadel, Class of 1968. Professional history: Albery worked at the South Carolina National Bank, 2 years, then The United States Marine Corps, EOD Officer, retiring in 1989. Worked under his father at WB Guimarin & Co., before starting his own company, Ecology Control Systems, which he operated from 1973-1983. Albert entered the Self Storage realm with his first project in 1977, and he has continued in this industry ever since. Past President of the Southern Region of the Self Storage Association (SSA-2 terms), National Board of Directors (4 years). Developed more than 1,000,000 sq. ft. and managed over 2 ,000,000 sq. ft. stretching from Maine to Florida to the Mississippi River. Well versed in Feasibility, Development, Construction and Management.
Chief Operating Officer, Leadership Team
Hometown: Panama City, FL
Hobbies: Golf, Racquetball, Model Building, Cooking, Reading Spy Novels
People who have inspired me the most: My mom, Anne Ballard, David Taylor, Michael Crichton, Lee ChildRead Full Bio
Bio: David is well-versed in growing revenues and creating product visibility for USG and its clients and stores. He has worked with owners and managers in marketing, sales, budgets, site maintenance, forecasting, and auctions. David’s knowledge of start-up stores’ requirements for success and mature store operations is extensive, based on over 20 years of industry experience. He produces one of the finest available self storage proforma packages for lease up absorption rates and income and expense goals, and his forecasting of development costs and needs is superlative. David holds a BBA in Business Management from the University of Georgia. He is also a licensed real estate broker in the State of Georgia and has served as the Membership Director for the Georgia Self Storage Association.
Vice President of Administration, Leadership Team
Hometown: Columbia, SC
Hobbies: Watching my two girls play soccer, playing the guitar, fishing, spending time with my wife.
People who have inspired me the most: My Mom and Dad – They instilled in me “Hard work always pays off”Read Full Bio
Bio: Prior to joining Universal Storage Group, Andy was a branch operations manager for a small bank in Columbia where he managed the day to day functions of two offices. After leaving the bank, Andy began his 18 career in the Self Storage Industry with The Heyward Companies. In his current position with USG, Andy oversees all of the administration functions of the company which includes Accounting, HR, Legal, & IT. Andy attended Midland Technical College in Columbia where he majored in banking and finance, and also is a licensed Property Manager In Charge with the State of South Carolina.
Vice President of Marketing, Leadership Team
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Hobbies: Photography, Reading, Art History & Appreciation, Watching Football, Playing with My Kids
People who have inspired me the most: My Parents, My Kids, My Husband, Edward Weston, Georgia O’KeefeRead Full Bio
Bio: Before joining the Universal family, Stacie was a restaurant manager, an assistant comptroller for a multi-location brake repair company, and later a procurement specialist for the engineering department of a national granite mining company. In her current role at USG, Stacie oversees the branding, design, marketing-program planning and implementation for the company, including all offline and online marketing for the entire USG portfolio of storage facilities, as well as the marketing and internal/public communications for USG corporate. With more than 14 years of experience in the storage industry, Stacie is an integral part of the USG development team, working on all facility-development projects, and is responsible for overseeing the company’s award-winning Manager Training program. Stacie enjoys speaking at industry events and contributing to industry publications both online and in print, and holds a BBA in business management as well as a CSSM™ designation from the National Self Storage Association.
Vice President of Insurance, Area Manager, Leadership Team
Hometown: Columbia, SC
Hobbies: poker, golf, hunting, watching sports, history, movies
People who have inspired me the most: My ParentsRead Full Bio
Bio: Before working in his current role at USG, Rhett served as a Project Manager for a development company building multiple storage projects in the Carolinas, later becoming VP of Operations for the former management company. Prior to working in the storage industry, Rhett owned and operated two counter service restaurants in the Columbia area, worked as a marketing advisor for a software company in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was a restaurant manager for one of the largest privately held restaurant companies in the US based in Dallas, TX and Guadalajara, Mexico. Rhett earned his masters in International Business with a focus in Spanish and Marketing from the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business as well as his BA in history from the University of the South, Sewanee. In his current role at USG, Rhett serves as an Area Manager for the North Carolina and central South Carolina markets, overseeing all facets of the day to day operations of multiple properties. In addition, Rhett is the VP of Insurance, specifically the customer insurance required to be carried by all storage tenants. Rhett also currently serves as the secretary of the South Carolina Self Storage Association.
Sarah Beth Johnson
Client Relations Specialist
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Hobbies: Golf, Family Movie Time, Chicago Bears Football on Sundays and College Football Saturdays, and Helping at my Children’s School.
People who have inspired me the most:My Children on a Daily BasisRead Full Bio
Bio: Sarah Beth started off as a Corporate Trainer and Marketing Manager for a World Wide Restaurant Chain. After taking a break to have and raise her two sons, once they began school, Sarah Beth felt the calling to be actively involved in their education by heading various committees, and ultimately serving as PTSA President. As the boys got older she received her Real Estate License and enjoyed time as a buyer’s agent and office manager for high producing agents and brokerages in the Atlanta area.
Sarah Beth’s passion for self-storage began in 2012, when she began to manage facilities for USG. Her affection for marketing, community involvement, and people helped make the stores she managed not only very successful, but trusted resources and fixtures in their communities.
Sarah Beth is now the Client Relations Specialist for USG, where she is the front-line representative for introducing the company to self-storage facility owners and investors. She is responsible for ensuring that USG’s brand is positively and faithfully represented in person, in print, and online.
Sarah Beth is currently engaged to an extraordinary person and businessman, and has two teenage boys of her own and two step-daughters-to-be. She also hosts a menagerie of pets, including three dogs, a guinea pig, a gecko, and several fish.
Hometown: Forest Park, GA
Hobbies: Watching Sports (College Hoops, College & Youth World Series, Football), Watching Movies, Working in my Yard
People who have inspired me the most: My parents, HS Teacher Mary K. Payne, Pat SummittRead Full Bio
Bio: Before joining the Universal family, Shelly was a Supervisor at a local bank lockbox company. In her current role at USG, Shelly is the area manager of 16 facilities including sites in GA, LA, & OK. In addition, she also has worked with other facilities in a consulting role. With 20 years experience in the storage industry, Shelly has been part of many roles as Relief Manager, Site Manager, Office Manager and then transferring to the corporate office as Training/ Operations and Human Resources. With sports background in high school and college, Shelly has a real TEAM philosophy creating motivation and support. Shelly holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Education and SSA Certified Self Storage Manager (CSSM©)
Marketing and Training Specialist
Hometown:Wellesley Island, NY
Hobbies: Reading, Traveling, Boating and Spending Time with Family and Friends
People who have inspired me the most: My father, by far, has had the biggest influence on my life, but I am inspired by my children every day.Read Full Bio
Bio: Before joining the Universal family, Lou was a Mortgage Originator in Syracuse, NY. Lou relocated to Hilton Head Island in 2000, and began her career with Universal Storage Group as a Property Manager. Lou soon branched out into Multi-Property Management as an Area Manager and oversaw properties located in FL, SC, GA and VA. Family obligations have brought Lou back to the Central NY area, and she is enjoying her new role at USG, as the Marketing and Training Specialist. Lou assists with USG’s award winning marketing and training programs including all of the online marketing programs for the entire USG portfolio of storage facilities. With more than 15 years of experience in the storage industry, Lou is has become an important part of the USG Marketing and Training team. Lou holds a BA from Syracuse University, as well as a CSSM™ designation from the National Self Storage Association.
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Hobbies: Motorcycle riding, technology, reading and spending time at the beach
People who have inspired me the most: Zig Ziglar, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson and my mentor Sandy Meadows when I was just beginning my leadership journey.Read Full Bio
Bio: Richard brings with him 20 years of leadership experience in various industries, with 5 of those years in self-storage, and a firm grasp on emerging technologies. He earned an Associate’s of Science degree in IT from Chattahoochee Technical College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from Shorter College. He is a firm believer in team development, and the growth of our most valuable asset, our employees. Richard has a passion for developing and maintaining relationships. He strives to deliver excellence in all areas of the storage industry. He has demonstrated his abilities as a solution-oriented manager and takes pride in his ability to solve problems. Richard is a quick study, and attributes his success to his ability to adapt and change, as well as his will and drive to excel in his chosen field.
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Hobbies: Boating, Hiking, Watching Football, Little League Games with my grandchildren.
People who have inspired me the most: My mother, sisters, her three sons and Anne Ballard.Read Full Bio
Bio: Before joining the Universal family, Meriam was an Apartment Manager, scheduled GE technicians for service calls, until the office closed in Jacksonville. In her current role at USG, Meriam oversees all the auction procedures for all the states managed under USG. With more than 19 years of experience in all of the daily operations of the stores from being a property manager to her current position as Auction Coordinator.
Hometown: Bethel, Ohio
Hobbies: Crafts, Collecting Art, Cooking, Softball
People who have inspired me the most: Parents, husband, family, friends & teachersRead Full Bio
Bio: My first job was in Cincinnati, worked on one the first Computers in 1979 doing data entry. In 1981 moved to Dallas Texas. I worked for Associates as secretary, promoted to Credit Investigator & VP assistant & collections manager. Moved to Georgia in 1996 I have worked in accounting, accounts payable & payroll for the last 18 years. I started at UMC in April 2001 as Accounts Payable for over 35 locations. Was promoted to Payroll & Accounting Manager & assisted Norma Taylor VP of UMC last 6 years until we became USG. USG my duties are payroll & accounts payable & receivable. During this transition I have learned several new systems, which is perfect for me. I like learning new things & being challenged. I look forward to growing with USG and foresee I nothing but there growing success.
Office Manager, Atlanta
Hometown: Saginaw, MI
Hobbies: Reading, Shopping, Collecting Shoes, Party Planning
People who have inspired me the most: My mom, my grandmother, my siblingsRead Full Bio
Bio: Before joining the Universal family, Charvon was a shoe store manager, a caretaker at an animal shelter, and a “Cast Member” at the local movie theater during her high school/college years.
Office Manager, Columbia
Hometown: Sumter, SC
Hobbies: Spending time with my two sons, my cat, reading
People who have inspired me the most: My two sons, family and friendsRead Full Bio
Bio: Grew up mostly in Sumter, SC (military brat). Started storage career in 2002 with Morningstar / Shurgard. Joined The Heyward Companies in October 2003 as a relief manager at Woodhill Storage & Office Centre. Started working in the Home Office doing Accounting in December 2003 and became Administrative Assistant to the President, Andy Shobert. With the merger that created Universal Storage Group, my roles are split between HR / Benefits and Financial Reporting.
Training & Special Events Coordinator
Hometown: Carrollton, GA
Hobbies: Reading, Crocheting, Cooking, anything to do with the beach, flip flops and earrings!
People who have inspired me the most: My Dad & Grandfather, my amazing children & grandchildren and my high school teacher Mr. Curtis.Read Full Bio
Bio: Sharon grew up in the small town of Coloma, MI where she was editor of the school newspaper. She moved to Atlanta, GA. in 1978. Before joining the Universal family, Sharon was the assistant to the Plant Manager at a major manufacturer of roofing products and later assistant to the Plant Manager, OSHA trainer and event planner for a worldwide food corporation. In her current role at USG, Sharon manages a property that serves as the training location, trains new employees and coordinates events at the facility and corporate level. With more than 17 years of experience in the storage industry with USG, Sharon has helped in virtually all aspects of self storage. Sharon enjoys writing and has written articles for both ISS and the Messenger respectfully; she has also conducted numerous roundtables at SSA conventions on various industry subjects. Sharon graduated from Coloma High School in Coloma, MI and attended psychology classes at DeKalb College.
IT Director, Atlanta
Hometown: Del Rio, TX
Hobbies: Electronics, Programming computers, Machining with metal.
People who have inspired me the most: High school Computer Sciences teacher.Read Full Bio
Bio: Allan grew up in Del Rio, TX and Atlanta, GA, and attended high school at Woodland High in East Point, GA. He attended college at Middle Georgia College, Devry Tech, and Georgia Institute of Technology, and is only 13 hours shy of attaining his Master`s Degree in Electrical Engineering. Before joining Universal, Allan worked as a contract electronic design engineer. Some of his exploits include: Army Missile Command-designing Radar Information Systems, AT&T-internet and BBS backbone, ADT-New digital system interface, Lithonia Lighting-Automated cable harness tester, MARTA-Alarm system for video cameras, Roche Pharmaceuticals-Sales force automation software.
IT Director, Columbia
Hometown: Mannington, WV
Currently Resides: Myrtle Beach, SC
Hobbies: Reading, movies, genealogy, playing cards, fishing, walking the beach
People who have inspired me the most: My logical thinking from my father, my love for computers from my past teacher (Joe Delaney,) my storage experience from Andy Shobert and Albert Heyward, and finally my spiritual side from my Lord and Savior, Jesus ChristRead Full Bio
Bio: Mark grew up in northern West Virginia where he attended Fairmont State University, studying computer programming and business administration. Moving to North Carolina, Mark honed his management style in the restaurant and convenience store industries. He was the called back to his methodical side, obtaining work as a logistical analyst for a major food distribution company, overseeing route development nationally. Growing up, Mark’s family vacationed annually at the beach, creating a love for coastal living, which seemed to constantly call him back to the shore. So, he moved to Myrtle Beach, where he answered an ad for an assistant manager position with a storage facility, beginning an eleven year career in this industry. As he strived to learn the business, Mark excelled and began to advance, first to the Site Manager position (winning Manager of the Year for 2005,) and then on to the corporate level, becoming the first IT Director for The Heyward Companies. Since their merger with Universal Management Company, he has continued to provide computer support for not only the facilities but also for the corporate offices. Various daily issues, along with reporting and problem solving, make no two days alike, which is just the way Mark likes it.
Accounting & Payroll
Hometown: Columbia, SC
Hobbies: Reading, Cooking, and playing with my dogs
People who have inspired me the most: My mom. She has been disabled since 1966 after having walked all her life. Hip Surgery every other year since 1966 so she’s had more than 30 surgeries... wow... never looked back…she just kept on going and is still going!Read Full Bio
Bio: Debbie has been in the moving and storage business for more than 20 years. She previously worked for an agent for Allied Van Lines, where she was responsible for all of their billing, driver commissions, statements from the Van Line, etc. She even did a little dispatching and lots more! Debbie has a fervent love for all animals, and would someday love to own an animal rescue shelter.