We are a Self Storage Industry Leader in Management, Consulting, Training, and Developmental Services.

Universal Storage Group was founded in 2013 as a result of a merger between Universal Management Company, founded in 1993 by Anne Ballard and Norma Taylor, and RES Management, founded in 1977 by Albert Heyward, III. USG offers full service third-party management, plus á la carte or comprehensive training programs, and start-up or conversion services including facility design, feasibility studies, and brand development. With over 150 combined years of experience and expertise, USG’s acumen directly benefits their employees, managed facilities, and self-storage owner clients throughout the United States and worldwide. Continually listed as a Top Operator in both of the premier self-storage industry publications, Mini-Storage Messenger and Inside Self-Storage, USG has been the recipient of ten (10) national Facility of the Year Awards, as well as a five-time winner of the ISS Best of Business Award for Best Manager Training. Universal's specialty is providing self-storage owners with Fewer Headaches and Higher Income.


Learn more about us by clicking on the pictures below.

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 150 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 Parents

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 - 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 father

Bio: Anne was the founder and president of Universal Management Co., in addition to former multi- term president and several-term board member of the Georgia Self Storage Association. Anne co-authored the original copyrighted self-storage 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.

David Dixon

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 Child

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 is the leader of the operations team and oversees the area managers and all aspects of operations in the field. 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.

Andy Shobert

Vice President - 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”

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 career in the Self Storage Industry with The Heyward Companies. In his current position with USG, Andy is the leader of the admin team, and 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.

Stacie Maxwell

Vice President - Marketing and Training, Leadership Team

Hometown: Marietta, GA

Hobbies: Photography, Reading, Art History & Appreciation, Watching Football, Watching my kids grow, learn, and become wonderful humans.

People who have inspired me the most: My Parents, My Kids, My Husband, My Sisters, Anne Ballard, Edward Weston, Georgia O’Keefe

Bio: Before joining the Universal family, Stacie was a restaurant manager and corporate trainer, 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 is the Marketing and Training Team leader, and 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 16 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 as well as our STARS team. 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.

Rhett Heyward

Vice President - Insurance, Area Manager, Leadership Team

Hometown: Columbia, SC

Hobbies: poker, golf, hunting, watching sports, history, movies

People who have inspired me the most: My Parents

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 has also served as the secretary of the South Carolina Self Storage Association.

Sarah Beth Johnson

Client Development Specialist, M&T Team

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

Bio: Sarah Beth started off as a corporate trainer and marketing manager for a worldwide 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 and has two teenage boys of her own and two step-daughters-to-be. She also hosts a menagerie of pets, including two dogs, a gecko, and a snake.

Sharon Pallas

Director of Training, M&T Team

Hometown: Carrollton, GA

Hobbies: Reading, Crocheting, Cooking, anything to do with the beach, flip flops, flamingoes and earrings!

People who have inspired me the most: My Dad & Grandfather, my amazing children & grandchildren and my high school teacher Mr. Curtis.

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 as Director of Training for USG, Sharon coordinates the training of all new employees and oversees USG’s staff of USG Certified Trainers. Sharon also continues to coordinate events at the facility and corporate level. With more than 20 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.

Shelly Gibson

Area Manager, Ops Team

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 Summitt

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 12 facilities including sites in GA, AL, 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 with Universal as Relief Manager, Site Manager, Office Manager, and then transferring to the corporate office as Training/ Operations and Human Resources, before settling in as USG’s most experienced Area Manager. With a 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 as well as a CSSM™ designation from the National Self Storage Association.

Lou Barnholdt

Internet Marketing Specialist, Area Manager, M&T Team, Ops Team

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.

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 an Internet Marketing Specialist and Area Manager. 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 17 years of experience in the storage industry, Lou 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.

Richard Romanowski

Area Manager, Ops Team

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.

Bio: Richard brings with him 20 years of leadership experience in various industries, with 6 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. Richard is currently pursuing his MBA.

Madelyn Still

Area Manager, Ops Team

Hometown: Decatur, GA

Hobbies: Spending time in Nature and with Family including our rescued Shih Tzu. I enjoy the mountains, lakes, butterflies, turtles, beaches, music, movies, reading, & cooking.

People who have inspired me the most: My Mother & my high school basketball coach, Miss Brown

Bio: Madelyn has over 19 years experience in self storage and over 30 years in property management. Prior to joining the storage industry in 1998, she held various positions in the multi-family community industry, including Regional Manager, where she earned her Certified Property Manager designation. Since entering the self storage industry Madelyn has utilized her financial, management, and customer service skills as Manager, Trainer, Area Manager, and Director of Property Management, and has assisted in improving the bottom line at numerous facilities. She currently serves as Area Manager, where her dedication, work ethic, and team-building abilities serve USG and the property owners well in creating the solution.

Charvon Beedles

Office Manager - Atlanta, Marketing Assistant, M&T Team

Hometown: Saginaw, MI

Hobbies: Reading, Shopping, Collecting Shoes, Party Planning

People who have inspired me the most: My Mom, My Grandmother, My Siblings

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. Charvon is known as the Atlanta office “hub” as she holds down the fort and keeps us all in line. She is an integral part of the USG family, a true-multi-tasker with cross-functionality among a wide variety of aspects of the company, from administrative duties and operational functions to marketing design and promotional material ordering. Charvon is also heavily involved with coordinating the company’s annual awards banquet and training weekend, and participates in our monthly online training sessions. In short, if you need anything, ask Charvon – she will know who, what, where, why and when!

Tonia Fowler

Office Manager - Columbia, HR Coordinator, Admin Team

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 friends

Bio: Tonia grew up mostly in Sumter, SC as a “military brat”, and started her storage career in 2002 with Morningstar/ Shurgard. She joined The Heyward Companies in October 2003 as a relief manager at a property in Columbia, SC. In December of 2003, Tonia transferred to the Columbia corporate office in an accounting assistant position, ultimately becoming administrative assistant to then-President, Andy Shobert. With the merger that created Universal Storage Group, Tonia’s roles were split between HR / Benefits and Financial Reporting, and she continues to serve as the office manager in USG’s Columbia office. Tonia is an integral part of USG’s HR processing including on-boarding of new hires and continual benefits coordination.

Meriam Hambrick

Auction Coordinator, Admin Team

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.

Bio: Before joining the Universal family, Meriam was an Apartment Manager in Jacksonville, FL. In her current role at USG, Meriam oversees all the auction procedures for all the facilities in all states of the USG portfolio. With more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of the daily operations of the stores from being a property manager at the start of her storage career, to her current position as Auction Coordinator, Meriam is an integral part of USG’s lien law compliance and auction processing, and is a member of the administrative team.

Brenda Hadley

Accounting Manager, Admin Team

Hometown: Bethel, Ohio

Hobbies: Crafts, Collecting Art, Cooking, Softball

People who have inspired me the most: Parents, husband, family, friends & teachers

Bio: Brenda’s first job was in Cincinnati, where she worked on one the first Computers in 1979 doing data entry. In 1981 she moved to Dallas Texas, where she worked for Associates as secretary, then was promoted to Credit Investigator & VP assistant & collections manager. Brenda moved to Georgia in 1996, and has worked in accounting, accounts payable & payroll for the last 20+ years. Brenda started her career in the storage industry with Universal in April of 2001 as Accounts Payable for over 35 locations. She was promoted to Payroll & Accounting Manager & assisted Norma Taylor, EVP of UMC for the last 6 years until we became USG. Now with USG, Brenda’s duties are payroll & accounts payable & receivable. During this transition she learned several new systems, which is perfect for Brenda, because she likes learning new things & being challenged.

Allan Dixon

IT Director - Atlanta, Admin Team

Hometown: Del Rio, TX

Hobbies: Electronics, Programming computers, Machining with metal.

People who have inspired me the most: High school Computer Sciences teacher.

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 University, 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. Allan oversees the Information Technology protocols and procedures for all of USG, and builds/sets up all new computers for all stores and personnel. Allan is fluent in English and Binary, and is USG’s expert on programming and systems.

Mark Amos

IT Director - Columbia, Admin Team

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 Christ

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.

Debbie Roberts

Accounting & Payroll, Admin Team

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!

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.

Michelle S. Williams

USG STARS Team, Certified Trainer, M&T Team, Ops Team

Hometown: New Albany, MS

Hobbies: Basketball, Art & Crafts

People who have inspired me the most: My Family

Bio: Prior to Universal, Michelle worked as a Property Manager in the hotel industry for 8 years. She came to work for UMC as a facility manager, and soon became one of our lead managers and was our first Certified Trainer from the field. Michelle has an extensive background in customer service, marketing, budgeting, & growing revenue. Michelle graduated from W.P. Daniel High School, and then attended Clayton State College, where she earned her Associates in Business Management. Michelle joined the corporate office in Atlanta in 2017 as our first full-time STARS team member, responsible for start-ups, takeovers, and active response solutions, in addition to training new hires and assisting both the Ops and M&T Teams.

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