Most retail locksmiths have little interaction with institutional locksmiths. To better understand how alike and different the two sides of the profession are, I've interviewed David M. Hasty, CRL, locksmith foreman for the main campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , Ill.
The U of I is a system of public universities in Illinois . It consists of three campuses: The original, main campus at Urbana-Champaign, known as “U of I” and “UIUC”; the downtown Chicago campus, known as “UIC” and the Springfield campus, known as “UIS”.
Following are the Ledger's questions and David Hasty's answers.
What was your experience before coming to the University of Illinois ?
I worked with two different local retail locksmith shops in Champaign-Urbana before coming to the University. I spent about seven years between the two and gained a great deal of experience in the general locksmithing field and in specific areas as well.
What made you decide to make the change to the institutional side?
I saw a number of things as opportunities for advancement. Because the U of I is so large, it is a major employer in this area. In addition to an increase in pay, there was the tremendous benefits package to consider. I feel this is a solid, prestigious organization to be a part of. I heard about an opening, checked it out and tested for it and was lucky enough to be hired.
How long have you been with the U of I?
At this point I've been with the university for almost 17 years.
What do you see as the big differences between retail and institutional locksmithing?
I think the biggest difference is in time constraints and the pressure to hurry up. Because a retail shop is in a profit set of mind, there is usually a rush to get this job done so you can get on to the next one. The faster you go, the more jobs you get done in a day, and hopefully increase the profits along the way.
A large majority of our work is maintenance and repair and it is more beneficial in the long run for our facilities to ensure the job is done in the best way possible and not necessarily the quickest.
How large a student population do you have here?
Our current enrollment is about 38,000 students of various types from graduate students to part-time attendees.
How many locksmiths are in your department?
Right now we have seven. We are budgeted for eight and are currently looking for a replacement to fill that opening.
How large is your campus regarding buildings or openings?
We used to have someone in facilities that would keep track of that pretty closely, but the recent phases of expansion and building have left us behind in our count. At last check, we had slightly over 110,000 openings.
We maintain every building on campus except student housing and that includes over 300 buildings. Many of those are smaller, secondary buildings, but there are over 120 primary buildings, each of which can include multiple floors, wings and additions.
You mentioned housing a moment ago. Doesn't your work involve student housing?
We do the entire campus except for student housing. On our campus, housing is a separate department. It's all SFIC and they have maintenance personnel that do all of their keying and key duplication. They also have carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. that do work strictly on student housing projects. They operate totally independently of our lock shop.
What types of primary hardware do you deal with?
Our biggest vendors are Schlage, Best, and SARGENT for locking hardware. Von Duprin and Precision fill our panic hardware needs, while LCN and Rixson account for most of the door closers.
We do have a number of other types of hardware including Corbin Russwin and Yale in various buildings. We really have a little bit of everything. On some of our pole barns in our Agricultural areas, we'll even see Grade 3 residential knobs that were originally supplied with the building. We've been using General Lock Grade 1 and Grade 2 levers to provide a cost-effective commercial lock that will key into our keying systems.
What kinds of jobs do you encounter?
We do all lock changes for the different campus departments. We do security upgrades, general maintenance, repair and replacements, and we rebuild door closers in house. In addition we maintain card access, key records and work with a number of other departments to get a given job done.
If it has a lock, latch or bolt, we'll get called out to unlock, open, repair or replace it, ranging from file cabinets and desks to large rolling gates and regular door locks.
Some institutional locksmiths only deal with locks. Hinges are farmed out to carpenters. What do you do?
Since we are a full union shop, including the locksmiths, we have guidelines. Hinge repair and replacement work is done by the carpenters along with wood door and frame jobs. Aluminum storefront and glass doors are done by glaziers; ornamental gates and steel doors go to the ironworkers, etc.
Pivots are usually done by a composite crew. On any given job you might find a composite crew of locksmiths and glaziers, locksmiths and ironworkers, etc.
How do you handle duplicate keys and key tracking?
On a regular basis we deal with over 100 commercial keyways. Because of the flexibility they offer, we are trying to focus on bringing most of our facilities into a seven pin SFIC.
Being a state-funded facility, it's always hard to sole source a product. Now, with the availability of seven-pin SFIC from various manufacturers, it's easier to get exactly what we need in a short lead time.
In addition, the process of regular key duplication is handled on a key request form which tracks which department has been issued what keys. That department is responsible for tracking which individual it was issued to, when it is due back, etc.
“Lost” or misplaced keys usually warrant the rekeying of a door, which may be charged to the department involved, depending on the circumstance.
What happens to your old keys?
We go through a lot of keys. Worn, broken or used keys are all recycled on campus at our recycling center. We also recycle other brass, copper, steel, aluminum and other products when we get rid of old locks, lock bodies, door closers, etc.
Do you deal with high-security and restricted keys?
From a security standpoint I can't go into great detail, but yes we are working with three of the major manufacturers to convert sensitive areas into a seven-pin, high-security SFIC keying system. This will give us exclusivity and total control over our own keyways, minimizing or eliminating the problem of unauthorized duplicates being obtained by students or faculty.
Is access control or CCTV a part of your job?
We are using a large variety of Locknetics standalone equipment. Our locksmiths do all of that work including installation, programming, repair, etc.
For hard-wired locks, we've formed a composite crew of locksmiths and electricians where they'll run all the wiring to the opening and provide any needed gang boxes, conduit, etc. They will terminate the runs at the opening and be there when we need to power it up for programming or testing.
Do you do any automotive or fleet maintenance?
Very little. We'll remove a broken key and cut duplicate keys for the standard autos, trucks, tractors, forklifts, etc. but we don't get into any high-security or transponder keys. Those are all referred to one of the local locksmiths, but sometimes end up at the originating dealer for service or repair.
We done some checking, but our fleet is so large and diverse that we don't feel it is a good investment for our lockshop at this time to get that deep into automotive high-security and transponders.
How much door closer work do you do?
We have one locksmith who does door closers full time. He'll disassemble, flush out, clean repair and rebuild almost any door closer you can think of. While a majority of our closers are the newer style LCN or Rixson, we have a lot of the old pot type closers.
We just recycled about eight shelves full of those, but we still maintain hundreds of old pot type LCN, Russwin, Yale, Corbin, Norton and other door, floor and overhead closers.
We also have an in house paint booth that meets EPA requirements. We can paint without the smell or overspray causing problems.
How are after hours and emergency calls handled?
Usually emergency calls are called into our police department, referred to as Public Safety. They contact me first. When I receive the call, I'll contact one of our locksmiths who live in town. Occasionally, I'll run the call myself, but I've got a great crew and usually I've got three or four guys who are willing to run the call when I contact them with the information.
Do you or your locksmiths get involved in planning and development of new buildings or remodel jobs?
Yes, we write building standards for all projects. We review all specifications on any major remodel or new building. We are notified of all upcoming jobs and review the plans to make sure we're getting the type, style and grade of hardware we want on campus. Contractors must submit a bid with one of our three primary hardware vendors.
Because we can't sole source, we'll limit new hardware choices to one of our three primary manufacturers: Schlage, SARGENT or Best. Because we're a state agency, we must provide three choices. This allows us to keep adequate stock on hand for repairs and upgrades. If we can stock those three instead of seven or eight, it simplifies our stock requirements and maximizes our budget.
The only exception to that rule would be a ‘match existing' project where we have a building full of Yale and want to maintain that keyway and style of hardware in that building.
Do you get involved in other consultation work regarding campus security?
We try to work with other departments when they come to us with a security problem. By keeping track of new and innovative products in our industry, we can sometimes solve an old security problem with a brand new product.
Most campuses suffer a crunch time at the beginning of the school year because students are moving in all at once. Since you don't do student housing, do you still feel the crunch?
Absolutely. Usually the remodel and construction work is scheduled to begin the day after classes let out and continue through the summer. Most of it is scheduled to wrap up right before opening day. Departments and grad students use a lot of office space on campus.
When new students hit campus you suddenly have a whole list of office rekeys, keys that don't open the door they are assigned to, doors that don't close properly, etc.
What do you see as your biggest challenge?
Like a retail lockshop, the biggest thing I face is handling the large volume of calls on a daily basis. Although we have eight locksmiths, it becomes difficult to get everything done in a timely manner and handle the emergencies too.
If everybody is fully scheduled with jobs, I have to pull someone off a project to handle the emergencies. Likewise if I hold someone out to wait for an emergency call, not only does the call not come, but there are other jobs not getting done in the meantime.
We operate with a shop of eight locksmiths. If you take me out of the mix, we're down to seven. Since I'm currently short one person, I'm down to six. I've got one locksmith that does nothing but key inventory, so I'm down to five.
One guy does nothing but repair, repaint, adjust and rebuild door closers; that gets me down to four. Now if you figure that two of those four are normally charged out to other departments for rekeying and repair orders, I'm down to two locksmiths to run the rest of the campus.
Finally, if you recall earlier, I mentioned our great benefits package. I've been here long enough to get five weeks of vacation per year. So have three of our other employees. That adds up to 20 weeks out of the year that at least one of us is on vacation. That's five months! When you throw in everybody else's vacation, sick days, holidays, etc., I'm many times down to one available locksmith.