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When Locksmith Ledger developed the 30 under 30 campaign, my mind began scanning for younger locksmiths working in our industry. Most of the names and faces that came to mind were working for customers of my mine that had been around for a while. Justin Trueland is a 31 year old locksmith business owner who I've always seen as a dynamic young man who was going to do well and make his mark in this industry.
When I arrived to conduct our interview, I first met 22-year-old Jeff, who told me that Justin was the best boss he ever had and that he was learning quickly and enjoying his apprenticeship very much.
Here is my conversation with Justin Trueland of DMD Locksmith.
Locksmith Ledger is doing this interview partly because you're a good guy but also because you're very close to 30 years old and we are focusing on learning more about the locksmiths who are 30 and under. How did you get started in locksmithing?
I worked at commerce bank in the facilities department and Lou, who I bought the business from, was doing business with the bank. One day he mentioned that he would be selling the business and the rest is history.
Were you a locksmith then or what were you doing for the bank?
No I wasn't really. I just wanted to own a business and have a bunch of well trained young men working for me. I wanted to own a business and work with my hands. At the bank I pretty much had a desk job. I started out working in maintenance the first two years and then I was put into a suit and tie and sat in a little cubicle. I was pretty good with people and picked things up quickly. Most of my job consisted of processing work orders and doing contract negotiations. I've been on both sides; I used to deal with the vendors and now I am the vendor.
What about locksmithing made you believe that you'd be successful and enjoy doing it?
I was always interested in locksmithing. I was mechanical and enjoyed working with my hands and I like the fact that the industry was moving in the direction of electronics. It was perfect because I knew I wanted to do it and it was something I could excel at.
Have there been any big surprises for you or anything very different from what you thought then? Didn't you go through some kind of apprenticeship first?
Pretty much everything is different. First I worked with Lou about 18 months before I bought the business. I would spend the day working on the locksmithing and then I'd spend time with Lou at night working on the business part of it. I came to work for him with the understanding that I was buying the business.
You mentioned you liked the direction you saw the industry going in but it was different from what you thought. Can you explain?
What I thought the direction the industry was going in is very different from the condition I found it to be in. Without any real information I perceived it to be an expanding industry in terms of security and securing businesses with biometrics and access control and different things that were on the horizon. I was excited about that.
One thing I have learned is that the competition is ridiculous and it's not just from other locksmiths but from everybody. I think a lot of the competition is coming from areas outside the locksmithing industry and in my opinion the industry is getting kind of picked apart.
So it seems that you picked up the mechanical part of locksmithing pretty well and there isn't much change occurring in that sector, correct?
From what I see, the mechanical aspect of locksmithing peaked somewhere in the 1970s. It's funny because in the almost six years I've been doing this, I'm thinking I came in at a perfect time considering how fast the industry has changed in such a small amount of time. When I first came on, there wasn't the push for electronic stuff residentially in terms of what's available now. When I attended my first conventions with Lou, we'd see locksets and safes and some car stuff, and the one we went to last year looked more like a computer show. You've got transponders, access control, biometrics, etc. It seems like the mechanical part is being taken out of the picture and becoming secondary.
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