To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Locksmith Ledger. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
One reason that I conduct interviews with industry professionals in this column is to hopefully inspire readers to change something about the way they conduct their business, with the result being more profit and a business that runs more efficiently.
Chuck Dixon, owner of Evesham Lock and Safe in Marlton , NJ , is a guy who can help to accomplish this. Hopefully, this question-and-answer session with Chuck will help take a little bit of the fear and mystery out of the world of electronics and inspire some of you to move ahead where you may have hesitated to move before.
Chuck, the reason I chose to interview you is that you are locally renowned for your successful business and especially your knowledge and success in the world of access control and CCTV. How did you get started in our industry?
I got started in a cooperative education program where you go to school half a day and work the other half. I worked for Marty Arnold at Arnold 's Safe & Lock and it was neat because although I knew nothing about the industry, I was fascinated by it. I used to work in a fairly large retail department store and they would have the locks changed periodically to make it so people couldn't get in. By lunch time of the same day, everyone who wasn't supposed to have a key had one. I began to think that I'd like to be on the other end of things and help prevent that from happening.
So you saw this as a business opportunity for yourself?
Yes, because I saw theft happening as a result. Once I was on the job with Arnold 's for a week or two, I knew it was something I enjoyed doing.
How did you wind up with locksmithing through the work/study program?
When I decided on the program, the gentleman who ran it presented me with several job opportunities -- locksmith, auto parts warehouse, manufacturing -- and he thought this was a good fit for me. I knew of Arnold 's as having been in town for 30 years and a place to get those hard-to-find keys. Most people don't have everyday contact with a locksmith but I still knew about them and I liked that.
So you started working there in 1984; how did you spend most of your time at the beginning?
I did most of my work inside the shop which was good because in a busy shop you learn a lot quickly. You see A to Z; car locks, safe doors, etc.
What was your favorite part of the job back then?
I don't know that I had a favorite part but it was a variety of things that kept it interesting. One day I'd work on locks and safes; another day I'd spend reconditioning old safes. We did lots of auto work; removing door panels and ignitions and it was challenging with different models each time.
Was it as varied back then as it is now?
Even more so back then. Things have changed but not that much. Now you may have 20 different GM products using the same ignition where back then things were a little more varied.
Did you seek out information on your own?
Yes, I was very aggressive about learning. I would take home safe locks and manipulate them. Within four years I became a CML. The variety of things we dealt with help me to be able to do that.
There have always been a substantial percentage of locksmiths who didn't touch the electronic stuff. Why do you think that is?
I think some people are just afraid to attempt new things and don't seek out the knowledge.
As a locksmith I have to admit I fit into that category; I would replace strikes and that didn't require any great knowledge of electricity. Isn't it true that with a keypad you are just dealing with a switch?
Yes, a keypad with a relay that controls the flow of electricity to a device.
It sounds simple. Talk about the classes you've taught and why you think locksmiths tend to shy away from electronics.
I've taught classes on access control, CCTV and basic electronics as it relates to locksmithing. The biggest reason that people will give to explain why they don't do electronics is that they're afraid of it. It is fairly simple and if you get the proper training and take your time, you will be able to do it. Many are afraid to run wires but in actuality it's easier than drilling a door fresh to install a deadbolt.
Jared Urman, Access Locksmithing