National Security Centers

Bellevue

1983

The National Security Centers project included the ground up development and ongoing operation of a high security vault facility in Bellevue, Washington.

Walsh Investment Company built, owned and operated the high-tech vault facility which opened in 1983. This was the first development project completed in Washington State, shortly after the company relocated its headquarters from Anchorage, Alaska to Bellevue, Washington.

The secure vault facility was built less than a mile from the downtown core of Bellevue, Washington. While Bellevue was primarily a high end residential suburb of Seattle in the 1980’s, today it regularly demands some of the highest office rents in the United States.

Modeled after Swiss security systems, it is the only UL-listed, level III vault in the Pacific Northwest for many years. National Security Centers (“NSC”) featured private vaults in 21 different sizes for the ultimate protection of personal and corporate valuables. The building won architectural awards from the City of Bellevue.

The current owner later renamed the business Safe Deposit Center.

 

Investment Thesis

In the early 1980's retail banks were undergoing a large scale consolidation of their branch networks into fewer larger locations which meant clients had greatly reduced access to safety deposit boxes for storing high value physical assets. At the same time, the historically high price of gold was driving increased demand for high security storage solutions. Walsh Investment opened the business to address this unmet need.

Lessons Learned

Take time to understand how and why your customers use your product in an unexpected way. Don't be afraid to pivot and adapt.
The over-sized personal vault offering didn’t take off as quickly as we expected so we needed to find a new use for some of the vacant vault space (Ideally an alternate use which took advantage of the investment we had already made in thick concrete walls and bulletproof glass!) We noticed that several of the customers were companies storing data backup tapes in their vaults so we started making calls to the IT departments of other local companies and offered to store their backup tape media.

Demand picked up immediately, but storing the tapes in the individual vaults was overkill from a security perspective. We carved out 3,000 square feet of the non-vault portion of the building and added a racking system which allowed us to store the tape media at a much lower cost per square foot compared to the storage vaults, while still exceeding the client's security expectations., We also bought a van and added a service to pick up the data storage tape from the client's location.

As a result of the successful pivot from a B2C to B2B physical asset storage company the business quickly outgrew the original National Security Centers building. Walsh Investment formed a new company Integrated Storage Solutions, Inc. ("ISSI") and purchased warehouse building at 8950 154th Street in Redmond, Washington to make room for the rapidly growing business.