30 Under 30: PJ Slauson

PJ Slauson, 24, has been working in the family locksmithing business most of his life.


Twenty-four-year-old Idaho locksmith PJ Slauson has been working at the family business, Country Lock and Key, for 18 years and started taking service calls at age 15. These days, he splits his time between the original locksmithing company and two other related family businesses, locksmith tool and...


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Twenty-four-year-old Idaho locksmith PJ Slauson has been working at the family business, Country Lock and Key, for 18 years and started taking service calls at age 15. These days, he splits his time between the original locksmithing company and two other related family businesses, locksmith tool and supply distributor CLK Supplies and tryout key manufacturer Aero Lock.

Locksmith Ledger recently interviewed PJ, asking questions about running a family business, the state of the locksmithing industry in general, and future trends. Following are our questions and PJ's (and sometimes his father Peter's) answers.

 

I know yours is a family-owned business. Tell me how you got started in the business.

Well, I pretty much started when I was 6 years old. During summer vacations and Christmas breaks and stuff, I'd come in and start stamping keys and I'd rekey Kwikset locks and do basic Kwikset keys. I'd ride around with my dad some.

Growing up, there's be a padlock in the shop that a customer needed rekeyed, and we couldn't get it done during the day, we'd take it home and my dad and I would be sitting on the couch, trying to pick the lock.

When I turned 15 in Idaho, you can start driving so when I was 15, I started doing on-call work and jobs on the weekends.

Most kids growing up, they have Christmas break or spring break and they get to go and hang out with their friends I was pretty much required to work.

(Peter:) The deal was $5 or $10 plus free lunch when he was a kid to hang out with me all day.

 

What did customers think when a 15-year-old pulled up to do their job?

Fortunately I always looked older and they probably thought I was 18.

 

Did it ever cross your mind that you would do something different for a living?

Yeah, right after I graduated high school, I actually did a year internship to possibly become a youth minister. When was in high school, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to be a part of the family business.

(Peter:) It's a good thing that PJ and I get along well

 

Are you both in the same location?

We added about 5,000 square feet onto our Post Falls store at the beginning of last year for our wholesale company. At that point I moved over here to Post Falls. Until then, we all worked out of our Hayden store. Pretty much since I grew up working here, all of us have a real good relationship. We would have our American Chopper moments when everyone was yelling and screaming at each other, but 10 minutes later we were all fine.

 

Is the long-term goal, years down the road, for you and your future children to take over the business?

Yeah, most likely. I have a 17-month-old daughter. If my children wanted to work in the family business, that would be great, but if not, that's fine too. I enjoy coming to work every day because it is kind of like a hobby for me as well.

 

Have you had the opportunity to take any formal training or attend classes at trade shows and distributor expos?

Yes, throughout the year, we consistently go to trade shows and we take a lot of classes on new products like electronic locks. We are going to ALOA for the first time this year.

 

Is there locksmith licensing in Idaho?

No, you just need a business license. There are no locksmithing licenses at all.

 

Tell me a little about your typical workday.

I pretty much work 8 to 5:30. A little over half of my day is doing the wholesale CLK Supplies. And then a quarter of it each is locksmithing and then running and setting up keys for Aero Lock.

I'm mainly in the shop. I haven't done a job out in the field for two or three years. Probably the only time I'm out in the field now is sometimes well get a bid for a 100 to 200-door masterkey system in a complex, and I've gone out and sat in the van and pinned locks all day. For the most part, I oversee the operations and the day to day stuff here at our Post Falls store

 

Explain to me a little bit about your various companies and how they came about and how they are related.

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