As part of Locksmith Ledger’s 30 Under 30 series of interviews with 30 young locksmiths, I approached Jeffrey Styer about answering some questions about the world of locksmithing. Jeff is a very friendly and personable guy who made a point to show me his championship football ring while in his home.
Styer works for DMD Locksmithing in southern New Jersey. Following are the Ledger’s questions and Styer’s answers.
How old are you, Jeff?
I just turned 26 last week.
Do you consider yourself a locksmith?
Now I do actually. When I first started, I was working in the bank industry and there were four things I did. 99.9% of my day was eat,sleep and work at the bank. I never did any kind of residential or commercial work outside of what I did for the bank.
How did you get started with them?
My current employer, Justin, worked for them and they brought me on to help cover Pennsylvania and Delaware. I got all my knowledge on the job. The guys I work with joke around about me not being a real locksmith until I’m working out in the real world. During the past two years I’ve gotten exposure to the world of locksmithing outside of the bank. Lots of both commercial and residential; lots of old hardware, panic bars, everything you can think of as a real locksmith.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a real locksmith?
With the bank, there were maybe four different products we worked on. My biggest challenge since then has to do with hardware I haven’t seen before. In the real world you’ll find stuff from the 70s that they don’t even make any more. It’s the different products and how they work and how to repair them that’s the biggest challenge.
So you’re saying that most of what you learn now is on the job as you see hardware and situations you haven’t seen before, right?
Yes, there’s no way you could read a book that says today you’re going to run into an old Segal jimmy proof with one way screws. Here in South Jersey, you’ll run into that stuff all the time. Coming from the bank environment, you run into that stuff and you’re thinking “what the heck is this?”
Growing up were you mechanically inclined; did you enjoy working with your hands?
I didn’t do too much but had some hobbies. I used to like the Legos, etc, but wasn’t one of those guys in the basement taking things apart. I do enjoy figuring things out. I like the payoff in the end.
What is the pay off?
The payoff is that you have another notch on your belt. You figured it out and now next time you see it you’re prepared to take on that problem without getting frustrated. I’ll be honest; I get easily frustrated about things. When you haven’t seen something yet and you’re trying to figure it out, it could get frustrating. When you finally get it done, you feel accomplished. The payoff in the end is the feeling of satisfaction.
Do you have a preference when it comes to the type of work you do? What do you enjoy working on the most?
I still like the vault penetration we did a lot of at the bank. The combo isn’t working because two days ago it was changed and now it’s a few numbers off. Now you have to drill and figure it out. I used to like doing that very much. It feels really good when you feel that click and the arm drops in! Rekeying is fun; its simple basic locksmithing but you don’t feel real accomplished when it’s done.
What about impressioning and picking? Have you gotten the hang of those?
We don’t do much impressioning since we have the codes for most of the wafer locks we work on. Picking’s great. Some days you don’t have your picking hands but I like the way it feels when you do get it. Picking is usually done on residential jobs but we have to pick lever’s open on commercial jobs to take them apart and fit keys to.
For my second interview with a locksmith under 30 years old, I wanted to speak with Demetrius Heggs, owner of All City Locksmith in Philadelphia. He was 29 years old when I first approached him...