Locksmith Ledger: Seventy Years And Going Strong

Locksmith Ledger celebrates its 70th anniversary this month. It is impossible to mention our anniversary without considering the man who started it all, Leonard Singer. Organized locksmithing began a century ago as a secretive trade with servicing...

Q & A: Major Manufacturing’s Bill DeForrest

Who or what influenced you towards a career in the security field?
I was pretty much destined to be in the lock and security field. I am the third generation in this industry with my grandfather starting by moving his family to California. With his move to Los Angeles, he was next door to a locksmith shop and spent a lot of time visiting and learning the trade. In time, he went into business for himself.
My dad Bill Sr. and his brother Jim went to work in the family business. Over time, they decided to start their own business a few miles away and went in as partners. To build the business, they added hardware, lawnmower repair, glass and screens. Very early in the 1960s, they decided to add wholesale locksmith supplies, and American Lock & Supply was born. I grew up around this and learned the trade. 

Can you detail your own history in the security business?
I have always worked in the family business as long as I can remember. I started in the early 1960s working in the hardware / locksmith business on Saturdays and during summer vacations. When the retail business in Los Angeles sold in the mid-1960s, the wholesale lock business was moved to Anaheim. Again I worked there after school and during the summer.
In 1972 I went into the retail locksmith business with an uncle. I sold my interest after about a year and went back to the wholesale end.
In about 1976 Bill Sr. and Jim decided to go their separate ways. That was the same year Bill Sr. and I started Major Lock Supply. The business prospered until 1991 when Bill Sr. lost a long battle with cancer. It was decided the business would be sold.
I took a job in locksmithing helping a friend who had a technician out on disability. This opportunity gave me a greater insight on tools and equipment that was not readily available. After a year or two in locksmithing, I took these ideas and started Major Manufacturing.

What do you see in the future for locksmithing or the security industry in general?
I’ve seen this question asked many times over the years. I wish I had kept the different predictions and seen if anyone came close. There will definitely be changes, less automotive servicing, due to all the electronics etc, The automotive lock  work will be more and more a dealer job. Car openings will stay a locksmith call. I see more and more electronic door hardware installed; however, I see the standard pin tumbler lock being around for a long time. The business will also change and go to those who seek it out and sell the jobs, not to those who wait for it to come to them.

How do you spend your leisure time?
It seems that I have more interests than time to do them. I enjoy old west history and spend time with several old west re-enactment groups. In the clubs I am the armorer and safety officer. It is my responsibility to load blank ammo used in our skits for the safety of the re-enactors performing.
The money raised by our clubs is donated mostly to the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation. This foundation was started in part by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. 
Other interests include hunting, fishing, gun collecting, photography and drag racing to name a few.

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