Portable moving storage firm PODS is being sold

Published Dec. 24, 2014

PODS, the Clearwater-based portable moving and storage pioneer, is being sold in its entirety to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

But no need to pack up the moving van or put any office equipment into its namesake storage containers.

The parent company of PODS said the firm's headquarters will remain in Clearwater — with the current management staying in place — under a binding agreement with Ontario Teachers' announced early Monday.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

In September, Reuters reported that the private equity firm Eagle Merchant Partners, which has been managing PODS, was exploring a sale that valued the company around $1 billion, including debt.

PODS Enterprises is overseen by partners of Atlanta-based Eagle Merchant and owned by restructured Bahraini investment firm Arcapita Bank BSCC. Arcapita bought PODS in 2008 for $451.4 million. The Bahrainian company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in 2012 and emerged from bankruptcy last year.

John B. Koch, PODS president and CEO, said in an interview that, after a seven-year run, it was time for an equity investor like Arcapita to monetize their investors' stake in the company.

Founded in 1998, PODS (which stands for Portable On Demand Storage) has grown to more than 150 locations, both corporate- and franchise-owned, in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK.

It has about 1,000 corporate employees, including 400 in the bay area.

The new ownership positions PODS to continue adding staff to its local headquarters and call center, Koch said, as it increases market share nationwide through a boost in advertising. "We've already got a great foothold here in North America," he said.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan bought the company through its Long-Term Equities group, a unit focused on direct investments with steady cash flow, growth potential over a long-term horizon and a low-to-moderate level of risk.

"Teachers' is proud to add PODS to its portfolio," Lee Sienna, vice president of Long-Term Equities at Teachers', said in a statement. "We are impressed with the PODS management team, growth trajectory, position in the marketplace and strategies to increase market share."

Sienna said Teachers' access to capital and long-term holding plan will help drive growth. With $141 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2013, Teachers describes itself as the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada. It administers the defined-benefit pensions of 307,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario.

As it grew into a nationally recognized company, PODS has been highly protective of its brand. In a major trademark victory in September, PODS was awarded $62 million in damages in a lawsuit against U-Haul over its use of the word "pods."

Its sale is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2015.

Contact Jeff Harrington at or (813) 226-3434. Follow @JeffMHarrington.

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Correction: PODS successfully defended its trademark name in a September lawsuit by contending that the word "pods" was not frequently used to describe a container used for moving. An earlier version of this story was incorrect on this point.