Q&A: Karl Kretsch, University of Scranton

As access control supervisor/locksmith for the University of Scranton in Scranton , Penn. , Karl Kretsch is responsible for making sure the right university employees have the right access to nearly 7,000 doors in 70 buildings. Scranton is a...


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As access control supervisor/locksmith for the University of Scranton in Scranton , Penn. , Karl Kretsch is responsible for making sure the right university employees have the right access to nearly 7,000 doors in 70 buildings.

Scranton is a nationally recognized Catholic and Jesuit university in Pennsylvania 's Pocono northeast region. The University offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs with a total enrollment of almost 5,000 students.

Kretsch recently sat down with Locksmith Ledger contributor Steve Kaufman to discuss his job. Following are the Ledger's questions and Kretsch's answers.

Karl, thank you for sitting and talking with me here at the University of Scranton . What does your job entail?

The pleasure's all mine. I'm an access control supervisor/locksmith. I'm also the whole door man; it goes beyond the lock quite often here for me.

So you mean the entire opening? How much time can you spend replacing cores, right?

Actually, quite a bit. There are roughly 6-7,000 doors in 70 buildings and 1,000 employees.

What are your everyday responsibilities?

My everyday responsibilities include the care, maintenance and feeding of my 7000 doors and also the control of the vast number of keys and key systems we have here. We have quite a few manufacturers although we are in the process of converting to a more uniform approach with a patented, restricted key section. I'm not there yet so I'm servicing any number of manufacturers like Arrow, Sargent, Corbin/Russwin, Yale and Schlage.

Is this because buildings have been added over the years and people have taken it upon themselves to put different systems in different buildings?

You're typically driven by the specifications of your architect and if you aren't careful to cross your T's and dot your I's, then that's what you get. Or sometimes things are value-engineered and what you wanted may not be what you wind up with. Generally the University is pretty motivated to avoid skimping on security. I also have a pretty open door with the architects, the installers and the carpenters that allow me to have a hand in the things that are security and hardware related.

Let's get back to you and your role here. Were you a locksmith when you got here?

Yes, I've been a locksmith for about 13 years. I started out west in a tiny little lock shop that paid me next to nothing to learn the trade. It was then that I attended my first trade show and realized the vastness of the world of door hardware and how much intelligence it required. I discovered there's a pretty cool balance between hands-on and needing the brain.

I was intrigued by it; that's what got me going. Coming from a contractor-ship where you could go a long way without much intelligence. I found locksmithing to be incredibly dynamic in terms of the future. I also found the people sitting in the Ivory Towers of our industry to be incredibly smart. I was very intrigued at what I found. Today when I have a carpenter working with me here at the university, he or she is often amazed at what's behind the scenes of what I do.

What are we talking about? What's so impressive? From keying cylinders to making sure things work properly?

Sometimes the manufacturer doesn't know what does or doesn't work in every application. When you're supporting five different manufacturers with five different specifications with five different keying systems, it doesn't take long for someone to realize that locksmithing is really a complex craft Whether I'm referring to my books because someone's been nice enough to give me the information or from my knowledge, I don't realize how vast it is until I'm training somebody.

How much of your locksmithing experience which was not institutionally based prepared you for this job?

Yes, quite a bit of it. Of the various locksmithing jobs I had, I did work for a year for a ‘whole package' distributor and in that time I obtained a lot of knowledge about job specification and that was great experience to bring to the university. I didn't enjoy safe work or car work; I enjoy commercial locksmithing whether it was at a paper mill, a strip mall or a school district.

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