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 procedures handed down from father to son or daughter. Leonard Singer’s father was a locksmith.

Leonard saw firsthand how difficult it was to make a profitable living as a locksmith and dedicated his life towards raising the craft of locksmithing to the profession it is today. Towards this end, Leonard started Locksmith Ledger in 1939 as a small newspaper-sized information source for locksmiths. Locksmith Ledger articles from that era centered primarily on new product announcements with little coverage of technical matters. With the exception of the war years, Locksmith Ledger has been continually published since 1939.
When Leonard Singer restarted publishing in 1945, Locksmith Ledger appeared as a full-fledged magazine in a size similar to Readers Digest magazine. Articles of a more technical nature were published monthly. Locksmiths could easily fit Locksmith Ledger into their pocket and take it as a servicing reference on their daily jobs.
During the 25 years between 1945 and 1970, locksmithing grew larger and stronger, both as an organized profession and as a business depended on by the general public. Organizations were formed within locksmithing during these years to further our business. Groups such as the National Locksmith Suppliers Association (NLSA) and the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) were both formed during these years. NLSA continues today under a new name (SHDA, Security Hardware Distributors Association) but with the same dedication to locksmithing developed years ago. As a continuously published magazine during these years, Locksmith Ledger stood at the forefront of strengthening the ties between all people involved in the security profession.
After founding and leading Locksmith Ledger since 1939, Leonard Singer sold Locksmith Ledger magazine in 1971 to Mr. J. S. Robinson, a Midwest magazine publisher. One of the first moves that Mr. Robinson made was to purchase the Reed Code book system from Texan J.D. Reed. Some readers might remember the old leather-bound Reed codes books, a black book for utility codes and a brown book for padlock code information.
Soon after the code book purchase, Mr. Reed died and Mr. Robinson hired Mr. Reeds’ son, Bill Reed, to administer the Reed code book program. During his tenure with the company, Mr. Reed served in several positions including codes editor, magazine editor and finally publisher.
Readers may remember the Frank & Bill shows. Frank Agius and Bill Reed traveled the country presenting free technical seminars for locksmith groups.
Great instructors such as Len White, Hank Spicer, Steve Young and Jerry Levine also contributed to the Frank & Bill shows. A Frank & Bill show highlight was an overseas visit to teach Irish locksmiths in 1989.
Another event in 1989 was that Locksmith Ledger increased to an 8 1/2” X 11” size to better present pictures and articles.  
Locksmith Ledger became part of the Ilco Unican Company in 1988. Bill Reed left Locksmith Ledger in 1991 and Steve Lasky became the publisher. Frank & Bill shows were supplanted by Ledger Worlds and Reno shows. The bigger and better free Locksmith Ledger shows of the 1990s drew huge crowds wherever they went.
Cygnus Business Media purchased Locksmith Ledger in 2000. Soon after, Nancy Brokamp assumed the position of publisher. Cygnus has many other magazines covering a diverse group of topics. With the background Nancy Brokamp has had in the security field, and the expertise we can count on from within the Cygnus Business Media magazine family, Locksmith Ledger will be in good hands for years to come.
Locksmith Ledger magazine has reported on the locksmith industry from the fledgling beginnings in the 1930s, to the growing years of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and on to the current electronic security age. If the last 70 years is any indication, the coming decades signal a new and exciting adventure for both the locksmith industry and Locksmith Ledger. We will be there to tell the story.      

Q and A: Buddy Logan, ASP

Who or what influenced you towards a career in the security field? Were any other members of your family involved in the security field? Can you detail their history in this business?

In 1961 my father C.J. Logan took a correspondence course from the Locksmithing Institute in Little Falls, N.J. His main job was as a railroad engineer but he always had an interest in building things. He even built the house that we lived in when I was growing up. Having lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s, he had many different jobs during that time, including some limited work with a locksmith. So he decided to learn more about locksmithing with the idea of developing a second career after retirement from the railroad.
In the late 1960s he started teaching locksmithing to me. As a kid I was always interested in cars, with most of my toys being toy cars, trucks, tractors, etc. So as I learned locksmithing, naturally I became most interested in automotive locks. 
I had no other family members in the locksmith field, and some of my extended family thought I could “do better than that” with regard to locksmithing. So I did do better, I developed a new “extended family” in the locksmith field that were better than blood relatives.
Over the years many people have entered this locksmithing extended family of mine – too many to mention and to risk leaving someone out by accident.  But one who stands out and to which I give the most credit to in helping me broaden my horizons was George Robbins of San Antonio, Texas, along with his wife Wanda.  I had no brothers or sisters growing up, and since George and Wanda were only a few years older than me, they filled that role very nicely.  While my dad taught me the basics of locksmithing, George taught me many more ins and outs of the trade.  One of the greatest losses of my life was when George suddenly passed away in 1984 at only 44 years of age.  Today I don’t get to see Wanda as much as I would like to, as we live 1,800 miles apart.  But we are still as close as always and we each know we are always there for each other. 

Can you detail your own history in the security business?
Because of my special interest in automotive locks, I realized quickly that there was a big gap in the availability of information on how to service locks on imported cars. There was plenty of information available about American car locks, but little about Volkswagens, British Cars, Fiat, Renault, Peugeot, and the new Japanese brands that were starting to come into the USA. So I wrote and published the “Foreign Car Lock Service Manual” in 1974, with a second volume published in 1977. These were the first books ever published on that subject, and looking at them now they were primitive looking compared to today’s higher technology publishing capabilities. But they got the message across and as recently as the 2009 ALOA convention, I was asked to bring those books back for information about some of the older model cars that still pop up from time to time.
During that time I also realized that there was another gap in the availability of service parts for locks on imported cars.  Parts were readily available for American cars from Briggs & Stratton, Hurd, and other companies.  Even Ilco was involved in the automotive lock business at one time, with the factory which eventually became All Lock and now Lockcraft. But parts for imported cars were very difficult to obtain, even from the dealers. 
So the next step in my career was to develop a service parts business to fill the gaps for parts not supplied by the existing companies. That was the beginning of ASP Inc. Our first order was shipped on September 1, 1980, to Dennis Baxter of Baxter Systems Inc. in El Cajon, CA. Dennis and his father Jesse Baxter were pioneers in the publication of code books for imported vehicles, and at that time they also operated a wholesale distribution business of locksmith supplies along with their code business.   So it was natural that they would be the first to recognize the importance of service parts for imported cars to the locksmiths of America.  
Now 30 years later, ASP Inc. is handling distribution of automotive lock service parts for American cars made by Hurd and Lockcraft along with a greatly expanded range of parts for imported cars. In 30 years ASP has grown from about 100 different part numbers to over 3,500 currently active part numbers.

What do you see in the future for locksmithing or the security industry in general?
I will answer this question from the perspective of my specialty of automotive locks. The increasing use of transponder keys has been instrumental in creating new challenges and new opportunities for locksmiths. The challenges lie in the necessity for locksmiths to invest in new supplies and education to keep up with the new technology. The opportunities are available to those locksmiths who choose to make the effort, resulting in jobs generating higher revenues and an advantage over competitors who do not keep up with the changing times.
Gone are the days when do-it-yourselfers or general auto repair shops can replace a damaged ignition lock simply by “remove and replace”.  In the old days a new ignition lock could be installed in the car and the car owner would use new keys for that new lock.  With a transponder-equipped car that would require programming the new keys, a function which few auto repair shops and virtually no do-it-yourselfers can perform.  A locksmith can offer the unique service of supplying a new ignition lock coded to the original mechanical car key, eliminating any need for reprogramming the transponder system.
Of course the entire world economy is being challenged by the current economic times.  Economic recessions usually result in an increase in car thefts and burglaries.  Also older model cars are staying on the road longer as people find it financially more difficult to buy new cars.  Both of these situations result in increased opportunities for lock repair and replacement work for locksmiths.

Is the job of a locksmith different in other areas of the world?
Again I will answer this question from the perspective of my specialty of automotive locks.  My first trip overseas was to Europe in 1978.   At that time automotive lock service was an unknown field to locksmiths in Europe.  Looking back there were two major differences between locksmiths in Europe and locksmiths in the USA.   At that time locksmiths in Europe did not have easy access to training and education about servicing automotive locks.   Also at that time locksmiths in Europe did not have easy access to automotive lock service parts.  
The situation was similar in other countries around the world outside of Europe.  However automotive lock servicing was more common among locksmiths in English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.  I believe this is at least partially because those English speaking locksmiths could more easily benefit from educational materials that were available in the USA. 
The problem of the lack of automotive lock service parts to locksmiths in those other regions of the world was partially solved by ASP.   Locksmiths had easy access to lock service parts for American cars made by companies such as Briggs & Stratton and Hurd, long before ASP was begun.  But those parts were of little use to locksmiths in many other countries where American cars were rare luxuries.  When ASP developed a range of lock service parts applicable to the brands of cars that were popular in other countries, a worldwide market quickly developed for ASP.
ASP parts are now sold on every continent, including customers in countries as far away as Mongolia and Kazakhstan.  There are definite variations in the way locksmiths work in different parts of the world.  But I like to think that I played a part in helping locksmiths in other countries develop automotive lock servicing as part of their normal business by giving them better access to lock service parts through ASP.  

Turn 10 Wholesale: History in the Making

Every business starts with an idea and a person with the vision and drive to carry the idea successfully forward. In 1974 John Miller was a man with an idea and the drive to succeed.  He believed that the public had a need for safes and at that time dealers often had to wait four to six weeks for a factory delivery.
John Miller decided there was a need for a stocking wholesaler (distributor) who could offer dealers the availability of safes which could be shipped within 24 hours. This was a revolutionary idea in 1974 and Turn 10 Wholesale has been a success ever since.
The first safe products offered by Turn 10 were Victor fire file cabinets.
The basement of an A-frame log home in Marietta, OH,  provided the first office space for Turn 10 and rented space in a warehouse held the first safe inventory.  The original amount of safe products stocked in 1974 has now grown to more than  1000 different safes and fire files now in inventory. Every unit is available for immediate shipping. 
As inventory and business grew, Turn 10 expanded between 1974 and 2004 to include five different warehouses. In 2005 a new, 30,000-square-foot warehouse was completed and equipped with efficient rack shelving.   
Innovations have helped the Turn 10 Wholesale business grow. They were one of the first distributors to introduce an 800 number. During the time when rotary-dial telephones were popular, dialing 800-848-9790 required a lot of finger work, but it was worth it for dealers to have free access to Turn 10 sales people. The Turn 10 logo still uses a rotary phone dial in place of the “0” as a historical indication of the many years they have served the locksmith industry. Another innovation started in the 1980s has been an industry leading free freight option to dealers in over 30 states nationwide.
John Miller died unexpectedly in the summer of 2000.  He would be proud and happy to see how Turn 10 Wholesale continues to grow as they continue to focus on the sale of safes and fire files. Much of this success stems from the John Miller’s dedication to treating customers well and doing the job right the first time.
Second generation Operations Manager Andy Miller continues the family tradition. Turn 10 stocks safe products from USA-based safe companies such as Amsec,  Gardall, Hayman, FireKing, Schwab and Victor. They feature delivery in one to three days and a free freight program to 30 states. Turn 10 adds extra packaging to protect against damage during UPS and truck shipments.
Andy Miller indicated that the safe market is growing. Residential and commercial customers are increasingly interested in better protection for their money and valuables while having less confidence that financial institutions are doing a good job. Gun safes, fire safes, burglary safes, deposit safes and fire file sales are growing for our dealers. 
Turn 10 Wholesale believes big box stores feature cheap plastic or thin steel safes which are not up to the job. Locksmith dealers know that customers come to them for quality safes at a fair price. 
Turn 10 also believes that local dealers are the best outlet for selling quality safes. The best time to sell a safe is when your customer is in your shop. Turn 10 has fliers and banners available to help you sell more safes. Their helpful, knowledgeable employees with a “We Care Attitude” can answer any specific questions you may have. For more information contact the Turn 10 ladies at 800-848-9790.  

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.

Please expand upon the pre- and locksmith history of your family including their own history and the resulting business decisions they made.
I would like to add that I have been in three phases of the lock industry retail locksmithing, wholesale distribution and manufacturing.  Each segment has helped me understand better the problems encountered. As a distributor, I could see the needs of the locksmith and as a manufacturer I can see the needs of both the distributor in servicing the locksmith and the locksmith to his customer.
I have been asked, ‘What side of the business do I like the best?’ While I have had fun doing all three, my favorite is what I am doing now. It is rare when you can get up in the morning and look forward to going to work. I enjoy the creativity of developing a product, and people saying, “I want one”
Of the things that I miss is the people that I have worked with along the way. In the Major Lock Supply days we trained and got a lot of people started into the trade. One of our first employees was Lon Dahl, a good friend who I have known over 40 plus years. We started our friendship in junior high school; he was also my best man at my wedding. Other people who got their starts in the wholesale business are Beto Malagon, Tom Trector, Bruce Mason, Chuck Smith, Terry Brown, Ron Jungkeit, Kim Oymaian, Lori Elwell, Mike Guest and Barry Coffman. They are all still in the business and I would like to say I am proud to know and have worked with all of them.

Loading