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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Do you advertise in the Yellow Pages?
Yes we have a large ad in all of the local Yellow Pages..
(Peter:) We do parades; we throw out t-shirts and candy and free house key coupons. We are always looking for ways for people to know about us. We sponsor local events, we sponsor t-ball, baseball and basketball – anything to get our name out there.
Do you have a lot of competition?
Yes, we actually have quite a bit. Just in north Idaho here, there are about 10 other locksmiths. Then in Spokane, there are a lot more.
What about all these ‘scammers' or phone bank locksmiths in the Yellow Pages? Are they in your area, impacting your business?
For the most part, we don't really have any of that. I'd imagine the bigger cities have more of that.
Are you active in local locksmith associations?
We are part of the Columbia Basin locksmith association, which is middle to eastern Washington and north Idaho. This will be the first time my dad and I have ever been to an ALOA conference.
Where do you guys buy your stuff? How many locksmith distributors do you use?
Of course, anything that our wholesale company sells, we just buy it from ourselves. We mainly work with Intermountain and a little bit with Clark. There is no one local.
Where do you see the economy going in the next year or two? Obviously you see some positive signs or you wouldn't be out there with three different companies and acquiring Aero a year ago. Are you seeing business pick up?
(Peter:) Unfortunately in our type of business, the locksmith industry, when things are good, it's great and when things are bad, people are losing their homes, the banks call you to rekey. Being in our type of business is really a pretty safe business to be in.
(PJ:)On the wholesale side, probably one of the biggest phonecalls I get is from guys who have been in the locksmithing business for about 40 years and about 10-15 years ago they got out of the automotive because it started going to VATS/transponders. They call up and they haven't really touched an automobile in 10 years except for an occasional lockout and want to know how to get started again.