On November 11, 2018, Kure It Cancer Research held its sixth “Rivals United for a Kure” gala at City National Grove of Anaheim in Anaheim, California, and surpassed its goal for the evening, netting over $250,000 for the charity. The event, which brings together long-time rival football teams the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans, was held during the 10th anniversary year of Kure It Cancer, a charity that raises money for research for underfunded forms of cancer. The charity was established by the late Barry Hoeven, founder of Westport Properties Inc., who passed away in 2016 from kidney cancer.
Kure It Cancer Research still lives on thanks to Barry’s son Drew Hoeven, chairman of Westport Properties, who continues his father’s legacy with the both the charity and his company — which has invested over $300 million in acquiring self-storage facilities in densely populated markets that have high barriers to entry. Players in the self-storage sector of the industry have contributed to Kure It Cancer Research in many ways, but opportunities exist for the rest of the CRE industry to participate as well.
SoCal Real Estate spoke with Drew Hoeven about the charity, where it’s heading, and how the industry can get involved.
SoCal Real Estate: What led to the creation of Kure It Cancer Research?
Hoeven:My father was diagnosed with kidney cancer close to 20 years ago now. Back in 2004, he was told he had six months to survive and get his affairs in order. Thankfully, he fought the disease for another 12 or so years. It started a fire in his belly, and under a push from his oncologist, he created — in partnership with City of Hope — Kure It Cancer Research. From a charity that was just for kidney cancer research, it morphed into one that supports all orphaned cancers that don’t get government or other funds. Shortly after creating this partnership with City of Hope, it became a 501 c nonprofit. A lot of what drove it was my father’s internal drive — he believed that if you give up, your body will give up completely.
How has the charity grown and where do you see it heading?
Initially, it was the type of charity that passed the hat around to friends and family. Then, it slowly seeped into the company culture before we took it to the property level. We own and operate 130 self-storage facilities countrywide, specifically in 16 states. We brought Kure It to our tenant base and created what we now call Roundup for Research. If a tenant has a 10×10 storage unit, and the market street rate is $100.50 a month, our managers encourage the tenant to round up their rent by 50 cents, and our company will match it (up to a certain dollar amount) so that a full dollar will go directly to Kure It. That’s where we’ve really brought it granularly through company to our tenant base.
In addition, many of our executives belong to state self-storage associations, and Kure It is very much involved with all of these associations and has a presence in that industry. We’ve taken the Roundup model and have a team on trade-show floors—not selling Kure It, but encouraging and informing other operators on how how to give back and giving them our Roundup for Research model.
Another program my father was one of the founders of is Charity Storage. Delinquent storage tenants’ items go to auction after a while, but our tenants have no need for some of these items, so we created charity storage units where tenants can put an old desk or couch they don’t need. Once the unit is filled up, we auction it off, and 20 percent of the proceeds goes to Kure It, 10 percent goes to the Self Storage Association scholarship fund, and 60 percent goes to that property’s charity of choice. It raises brand awareness and dollars for Kure It.
We also have our annual Rivals gala for real estate people in the self-storage industry, which was formed in partnership with filmmaker Jack Baric and former NFL quarterback for the USC Trojans Paul McDonald. Jack has done a lot of documentaries and did a USC/UCLA rivalry documentary, but he really wanted a charity to reap the benefits of it. That’s where Rivals United for a Kure came in. All the proceeds from the gala go to Kure It, and we split the proceeds between UCLA and USC.
How has the commercial real estate industry supported this project?
With Rivals, it’s predominantly real estate folks. We have had a lot of our peers in the real estate industry as supporters of the Rivals gala and campaign, including City National Bank, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Wells Fargo, KeyBank, and a lot of brokers and operators including Newmark Knight Frank, CBRE, and various title companies.
In what further ways can the industry help?
The industry can help by getting the word out about Kure It. We’ve definitely done a good job specific to CRE as it relates to self-storage, bringing in peer groups throughout Orange County and L.A.. but not taking it further into other property types and companies and really spreading the brand throughout the industry. We’re depending on the executives from organizations like NAIOP and ULI; there are a lot of untapped resources who can hook their brand to a charitable brand like Kure It to create more dollars raised.