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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What kind of monitoring? Are you thinking of CCTV, for example?

Yes, everything from having a digital image of what's taking place at a door to monitoring the positions of doors, whether it's seeing if the door is opened or the latch is retracted, for example. This isn't really a recent trend in the industry. The newer trend here involves how we tighten things up at the university.

Before you were hired here at the university, was there a locksmith on staff? Without a locksmith, I don't think whoever is doing the security hardware work would typically have the same interest that you do in making things right. What do you think?

I did not replace a locksmith; I was the first in the position of Access Control Supervisor. Before that it was handled by a group including carpenters and maintenance technicians and some things were contracted out.

So the focus on what you do must have changed drastically upon your arrival. There are still many institutions out there that have facilities people and carpenters handling the work. Could you imagine where this place would be without you and/or the role you fill here?

We are certainly better off. The impact of having a locksmith may not always be felt because you're not going to feel a thing if you have a good locksmith. I think that even more important is having someone who enjoys doing it because enjoying what you're doing tends to give you the fortitude to move on during the less than pleasant days. Also, there's an awful lot to know.

Not only do you need to know locks, but you also need to know your clients. Everyone's needs aren't the same as well as their style of communicating. As much as I'm focused on what I'm doing here, people at institutions like this one are spending their time getting enlightened. I hear all the time from people who've learned something at a trade show, for example, and want to discuss it with me. It can come from Public Safety people who attend two or three conventions each year looking at the new stuff. My athletic director has even approached me with questions that arose at one of his conventions.

Lastly, I love that everything I do is within the same 70 buildings for the rest of my career.

What would you like to see from the locksmith community in general regarding educations and support? Do you get what you need typically?

I feel like I do. I'm no longer a member of any association. I have attended a couple of meetings with the ILA, but am not active.


How do you view the role of the ILA in terms of what you do?

At some level the associations are essential but on a very real level the nature of associations requires a good, active membership. The larger associations with paid employees and some expectation of quality will be better than the all volunteer ones. They're all vital.

Did you get something out of your involvement with associations? To what do you attribute your lack of participation currently?

It has everything to do with how I choose to spend my personal time. I wasn't driven away by anything in particular. I now spend time with my son's baseball league and things my daughter is involved with. As much as I can't survive in a vacuum here, the manufacturers and wholesale reps make themselves available to me here and I can find out what's going on any time I want. I did grow tired of hearing from manufacturers that they'll give me some attention when the place I worked for was big enough. Here we have the attention of the manufacturers and that helps.

What benefit do you see to eventually having the university under one key system?

Actually, I don't see that to be beneficial to security at all. It may be convenient, but convenience always runs contrary to security. When I'm done, I hope to have it under four key systems. I'm not interested in having one key that opens every door on my campus. Sometimes you find out after becoming involved in a system that there are things about it you don't like and I don't want that to happen after I've put it into 40 buildings.

How much do spending and budgets come into play?

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