SAFE AND SOUND: “We are the first private safe deposit box company in New Jersey,” says Jim Medalia, president and CEO of Charter Private Safe Deposit Box Company. “We focus on serving our customers with the best security available.”
Two years ago, businessman Jim Medalia had to wait at the bank to get into his safe deposit box. Then he had to wait again to return it to the vault. While he waited, he was in an open area, with a lot of people coming and going. He decided there could be a better way.
After extensive research and planning, he opened Charter Private Safe Deposit Company April 2, the first facility of its kind operating in New Jersey under charter from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.
Located at 128 Stanhope Street in Princeton Forrestal Village, the company provides convenient, private, and secure storage for documents, property, and hard assets of businesses and individuals.
“Princeton’s demographic makes it an ideal location for our first facility,” points out Mr. Medalia, Charter Private’s president and CEO. “There are thousands of small to medium-sized businesses and families within a tight radius of our location. Given the lack of local available vault-secured storage, we’re positioned to play a vital role in securing information and assets that people can’t afford to lose.”
“Princeton is an interesting area,” he adds. “Our expectations are that half of our clientele will be businesses.”
Many people, familiar with safe deposit boxes in banks, may question the need for such a new organization. Mr. Medalia is quick to point out the advantages of Charter Private. “Our security is superior. We’re chartered by the state of New Jersey, and the state stipulates significant security requirements. We far and away surpass these requirements. We also have two gentlemen on our board of advisors who were formerly with the FBI and the State Department, specializing in security.
“Our biggest security advantage is that this is not open space. No one can just walk in. Customers have a key and pin number, which work together. They use these to enter, and they have to go through 2 doors. Then, they sign in at the front desk, and their signature and photo on file are used to verify their identity before they can proceed into the vault area.”
Conventional and custom-sized safe deposit boxes are available to meet the individual needs of all clients. “Boxes are five inches by 10 inches up to 20 inches by 30 inches,” says Mr. Medalia. “We can accommodate any size item, and we can provide customers with specially-designed boxes to hold stamp collections or coin collections. We also offer very large boxes that can hold valuable collections, such as artwork.
“In the safe deposit box, people might have a list of all their assets,” he explains. “Estate and financial documents, trusts, deeds, name of attorney, financial advisor, also personal items, such as list of medicines, passport, birth certificates, etc. This can ensure your and your family’s future well-being and peace-of-mind. Our boxes and vaults will survive almost any catastrophe.”
Whether due to terrorists or natural disasters, the world is a much more volatile place than in the past, observes Mr. Medalia, and he supports the view of security officials that a safe at home is not the best protection for valuables. “Every authority, including law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security, FEMA, the Red Cross, and others, emphasize that the best protection for belongings is off-site in a safe deposit box. Safes at home are not that secure or fire-proof.”
Charter Private features private client viewing rooms, on-site digital photography of assets, as well as appraisal of valuables.
“We are the largest vault built in New Jersey in the past 20 years,” says Mr. Medalia. “We are more than 1,000 square feet, much larger than typical new bank vaults.”
When the client has retrieved the box — it always takes two keys to open the box — he or she takes it to a private viewing room with a locked door. Different rooms are available depending on the need. For example, says Mr. Medalia, “We have a large private viewing room if the customer wants to meet with an attorney or have an appraisal.
“We are totally focused on serving our clients,” he continues. “There are two people here at all times just to service safe deposit box customers. We even provide a ‘video’ escort for clients. We’ll watch you leave with our security camera, if it should be late at night.
“The two driving forces for me are (1) to be known as a leader in the industry, providing the highest level of security; and (2) to grow the business. This is a model, and we spend a lot of time to get it just the way we want it. Eventually, we hope to expand and be local, state, regional, and national.”
In the meantime, Mr. Medalia is very pleased with the Forrestal Village location. “It’s just great. There is easy parking, convenience, and security. A security booth is located right by us, and the whole facility adjoins the state police barracks on Route One.”
There are very few private safe deposit companies fewer than 15 in the U.S., he points out. He strongly believes it is an idea whose time has come.
“The timing is right. The American population is aging, and this is a way to protect their resources and pass them on. Also, people are moving into the area; others are downsizing and need to protect their valuables. Right now, with bank safe deposit boxes, there is more demand than supply for a premium size box. We’re filling a need. This is a win-win situation.”
In order to rent a box, one must have a valid government-issued photo I.D., secondary I.D. (social security number or credit card), and a valid credit card for payment. Fees are paid annually.
Charter Private is open Monday through Friday 8 to 8; Saturday and Sunday 11 to 5, and by special appointment. (609) 919-1925. Website: www.charterprivate.com.
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