Brothers Seth and Alex Hecht grew up working in the family business, Able Locksmith & Door Service, Long Island NY (www.ableiskey.com). They are third generation locksmiths for the business launched by their grandfather in 1968 and now owned by their father. Following are the Ledger’s questions to these locksmiths, both in their early 20s (well Seth is now 25), and their answers.
Can you tell me a little bit about your business?
This business has always been in the family. My grandfather started it in 1968 and growing up, my father was always working here and my brother and I would come along and help him out. It was a natural progression to eventually come on full time.
Did either one of you ever consider doing something other than locksmithing?
Seth: It was always just natural, what I knew how to do. It was a natural progression to eventually come on full time after I got my BA in history from SUNY Binghampton. I look at it this way: history is definitely my interest, where business is my passion, and that’s why I’m here.
Alex: I’m attending SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island, pursuing security specialist degree, taking courses in access control. It has more to do with internet security and web server but then again that might be where some of locksmithing is heading. It definitely helps me with the access control, the alarms, and then also some good information for the future.
What scope of work do you do?
Commercial, residential and automotive. We do install some alarms, CCTV, access control.
What do you enjoy the most?
Seth: Commercial. I like commercial hardware.
Why do all locksmiths say that? I hardly ever get anyone who says they particularly enjoy doing lockouts.
Automotive lockouts really aren’t bad, but I wouldn’t look at that as a large portion of my work. It’s something I do enjoy, but it’s an occasional perk. We probably open only a half a dozen to at most a dozen cars a week.
What part of the business do you dislike doing the most?
Well, it’s actually the part that Alex has been dealing with the most – the accounts collectible.
Alex, which part of the job do you enjoy the most?
I’m really only in the shop. I enjoy answering the phone because I get to help people out and I enjoy when people actually appreciate me asking them questions and getting information from them. That really is the best part – you get to talk to everybody and help them out.
How much electronics work do you do?
A small percentage of our business is electronics, maybe about 20 percent. Commercial door hardware is the majority and then as far as residential goes, we do a decent amount of mortise body installs, and that’s a very specialized area.
Where does that specialized business come from?
There actually is a decorative hardware company out in western Nassau County that recommends us, and we end up doing a decent amount of Emtek and Baldwin and Period Brass and Rocky Mountain Hardware installations. It’s nice to get into a little bit of the finite carpentry work.
Do you do transponder programming?
We do some transponder programming. We have the Bianchi Repli-Code so we only do certain models, but there are not too many people coming in for transponders and also once you tell them how much they are, they say “that’s a lot.”
How many family members work in your shop?
Our father, who owns the shop. It’s just the three of us, family-wise.
How do you market your business? Do you get a lot of referrals?
We’re in a good location and have been in the same location since 1978. We get a lot of repeat customers and we have a reputation for quality, professional work, done the right way the first time.
Do you advertise in the local yellow pages?
Yes, we do. We also do some local campaigns in the diners; sometimes we’ll advertise in school pamphlets for events. Our truck on the road may be our best advertising.