at 21 E. Clay St., just off North Queen Street, opened Thursday.

Entrepreneurs can draw inspiration from anywhere — books, professors, motivational videos, established executives.

For Tod Sherman, though, the source was closer to home.

Or, to be precise, the catalyst behind Sherman’s decision to dive into the self-storage business was once in the same home.

“I have a big brother (named Guff) who has multiple facilities (three sites totaling more than 1,000 units) in Alaska. That’s what got me involved,” said Sherman.

Sherman on Thursday opened at 21 E. Clay St., a 20,000-square-foot building most recently owned by ImageFirst and its predecessor, Nixon Uniform.

The building has been vacant for three years, since ImageFirst moved to Prospect Road, Columbia.

The total project cost of $2.1 million includes $300,000 to acquire the property, parts of which date to 1942.

Over the years, the one-story property has had numerous uses, including a car dealership and meat packing plant.

Sherman, however, looked before he leaped into his new endeavor.

He hired consultants to study the need for self-storage, including document storage, on the north side of Lancaster city.

The consultants confirmed Sherman’s hunch, noting numerous medical practices near Lancaster General Hospital on North Duke Street and other small businesses, as well as thousands of residents. will offer 156 self-storage units, ranging in size from 5-by-5 feet to 10-by-20 feet, with the exception of one unit that’s 18-by-30 feet.

“It’s a state-of-the-art facility,” said Sherman. “It’s all internet driven on the cloud. You can rent a unit, buy unit insurance, pick a PIN and input your credit card number, all on your smart phone.” will provide convenience, 24-hour camera security and preventive pest control, said Sherman. It will have three part-time employees.

John Stockdale of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty handled Sherman’s purchase of the property.

Sherman, a Hershey native and Lititz resident, co-owns an energy consulting business, Tybec Energy Management Specialist. Before starting his own business, he was a civil engineer for UGI Utilities.

Sherman plans to develop a second self-storage site, on Warwick Street in downtown Lititz, just north of the former Wilbur Chocolate factory.