Larry, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen since you started with your dad back in 1976?
Well, electronic security was virtually nonexistent back then aside from some government locations.
Was it easy for you to transition into the world of electronics?
LS: No.It’s a learning process and something that’s changing constantly. I don’t think anyone would say they know it all.
Tommy, when you think of locksmithing, do you automatically consider electronics as a part of it?
TS: I do. For as far back as I can remember, electronics have been a part of it. I think of both the mechanical and electronics when I think of what I need to learn.
Larry, how was it different when you think back to the 1970s?
LS: Back then it was mechanical only. When it came to automotive, the only thing electronic was maybe an aftermarket alarm that someone had; no transponders, no Vats systems. Things have changed quite a bit. I remember when GM changed from the spring loaded retainer to using a screw to hold the cylinder in and that was a big deal. I knew locksmiths who wanted to get out of the business because they couldn’t slap out the cylinders any more. I was fine since I never slapped them out to begin with.
Tommy, did you ever go with me on lockouts when you were little?
TS: I think I went on a couple. I remember us opening cars for a couple of my friends.
LS: His mom would drop him off when she had to and he had no choice.
Did you like fooling around with picks and locks when you were little?
LS: We had an American padlock lying around here that no one was able to pick and Tommy did it.
TS: My older brother Ryan and I would have contests when he was here. We’d grab locks off the displays and time each other and there were a few things I was able to pick open when I was just hanging around and not working here yet.
LS: Normally you wouldn’t even try to pick and would sell another one. The customer who left it had a bunch more with the same key and we had to pick this and make a key that would work all the others. None of the other guys here could get it and I jokingly asked Tom to open it and to my amazement he got it after 5 or 10 minutes.
Did you have any preconceived notions coming in? What has been different than you thought it would be?
TS: Things looked easier than they actually are, whether it’s dealing with people over the counter or some of the work we do behind the counter. I’ve been learning a lot about communicating with customers, being more aware of the way I talk to them.
I know that a major issue in our industry is knowing what questions to ask. Do you think that’s important to learn?
LS: I agree 100 percent. Some of the guys who have been here for awhile still don’t ask the right questions. It’s important so we don’t go out to do a job and find out we’re not prepared. It takes a while to do that right.
What do you ask when someone calls and tells you they want their locks changed?
TS: I ask if we’re going out or are they bringing the locks here.
LS: He knows some of the right questions but it’s hard until you’ve gone out and done some of the work, which I’ll be doing with him soon.
Larry, what’s the difference between working with your son and another apprentice? Are you gentler or tougher on him?
I try to treat him like anyone else. He doesn’t get any breaks from me. I’m on the road most of the time and don’t always know what goes on between him and the other guys.
TS: I’d rather be treated the same as the others. I don’t want it to seem like I’m getting better treatment because there would be some resentment by the others.
What do you think you’d be interested in doing if you hadn’t grown up in a locksmith environment?
TS: Automotive, in school a big thing is the automotive shop. A couple of times I’ve had to call here to solve problems on cars, like when the security light comes on.
From what you’ve seen so far, what aspects of locksmithing you would like to focus on given the choice?
I like working on everything and like picking open and keying cylinders; I’ll do anything. I’ve done some masterkeying and work on IC cores too. I look forward to learning something new every time I come to work here.
This is my third interview with a locksmith for the “30 under 30” series and this is the first one conducted with one who is an employee and not the business owner. Jay Ricciardi works for Ed...