Unlike most of the locksmiths interviewed for our 30 Under 30 Series, northern Michigan locksmith Jared Urman did not join the family business, nor did he even know any locksmiths before entering the field. After college and some work experience, he was looking to own his own business and started up Access Locksmithing, Web Site: www.accesslocksmithing.com. in Petoskey, Mich.
Following are Locksmith Ledger’s questions and Urman’s answers.
Why did you choose locksmithing?
I wanted my own business. My background is in construction and I have a bachelor’s of science degree in business. I also have a contractor’s license and installed doors and locksets.
Did you take additional training?
Yes, I started out by attending Lockmasters Security Institute in Kentucky; I took the Fundamentals of Locksmithing class. I read the locksmith magazines, took training classes through distributors, Stanley Best and Von Duprin factory classes in Indianapolis, and attended SAVTA (Safe and Vault Technicians Association annual show, scheduled April 19-24, 2101, in San Diego).
Have you been to an ALOA Show?
Unfortunately, they are always in the summer and that is my busiest time.
How did you get started?
I wrote up a business plan and planned to apply for a loan with the Small Business Administration, but then my father offered to make the loan instead. I equipped my van and had about a year of not making any money.
How long have you been in business?
Are you mobile only?
Yes, I have my van and a shop in my garage.
Do you have any employees or are you a one-man shop?
My brother and two cousins who are still in college help me with door and frame replacement jobs. In addition to locksmith work, we handle commercial doors and frames, which is a good fit with my background in construction.
What is your schedule like? Are you on call 24/7?
Pretty much – the phone rings at all times of the day and night. Because this is resort country, it is busier in the summer and winter. In the summer, the phone rings a lot just before dark as boaters come back in off the lakes and discover that they’ve locked their keys in the car.
In the winter, there are three ski resorts within a 25-mile radius, snowmobiling trails and cross-country skiing. There is also a casino here in town.
November and April are the down months, in between tourism seasons. It really picks up again May through September.
Do you do all types of locksmithing?
When somebody calls, I’ll always take the job. I’ve done safe opening, automotive, residential and commercial.
Commercial really drives my business. I’d say it accounts for about 65 percent. Our customers include four schools, the casino and the local hospital. I am also a licensed automatic door inspector.
Do you do a lot of electronics?
At one school, we just installed Schlage CM locksets. The hospital is just starting to convert to a card reader-based electronics. I’ve installed a lot of electric strikes, mag locks and card readers. Still, people up here are just beginning to explore electronics.
What about automotive?
We do a lot of transponder programming. There’s only one other locksmith up here that can do transponders, so I get some referrals from other locksmiths.
What equipment do you have?
I have a T-Code Pro classic and an MVP Pro. I can do most models. Many of the customers up here have high-end vehicles, and the dealer may be a three-and-a-half hour drive away.
How large a geographic area do you cover? Do you charge based on distance?
Yes, we absolutely have to because it is such a large area. We try to stay west of I-75 – Petoskey, Charlevoix, up to the Mackinaw bridge, but I have gone farther for a good customer.