Q&A: ALOA President Bob Mock

Locksmith Ledger sits down with Bob Mock to discuss his career and the future of the locksmith industry.


Bob Mock seems to be some kind of icon around here. What do you say to that? I started out over 30 years ago. My degrees are in landscape design and horticulture. It was getting really long in the tooth. I was working seven days a week managing a multi-million dollar retail outfit and my wife...


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I wanted to draw everybody in and be able to use his or her talents. We have guys on the board and still do who weren’t always actual locksmiths. I wanted to be able to use the intelligence of anyone who could assist in bettering my industry. Currently with ALOA, we have people with particular expertise like political experience for example.

It’s been my opinion that we as an industry don’t do enough to promote the industry in general. The public just doesn’t know enough about what we can do for them. What role could ALOA play in making a difference here?

ALOA could create marketing promotions and make them available to chapters and affiliate associations, and then they could present them to their segment of the country. We can now more effectively promote the employment of our ALOA members to various industries and government agencies, because we now require the members to have a certain level of certification, continuing education, along with background checks performed on new applicants. We can state with confidence---these are the reasons why an end-user can be assured that an ALOA member can provide professional services.

A recent letter to ALOA members regarding certification angered some folks I’ve spoken with. What’s the deal with the letter and this subject in general?

The letter was meant to clarify the new by-law changes that took effect on Jan. 1, 2006, by explaining to each member how those changes affected each individual.

Are member locksmiths required to continue their education?

We put the issue of continuing education to a vote by the general ALOA membership and it was approved by more than 75 percent of those who voted. Unfortunately, only a small minority of members vote and therefore the opinions of most members are not heard.

So will locksmiths be required to take all of their continuing education through ALOA?

No. They can participate in courses given by associations, manufacturers, suppliers, trade shows, etc. ALOA does not care if there was a fee to take the class or not. Any fees ALOA does ask for are ultimately put to use for the betterment of our industry. We are trying to make it so that an ALOA membership and certification will help the locksmith be recognized as a certified professional. In states such as New Jersey, continuing education is now required and this will eventually be the case all over.

Do you still teach basic locksmithing?

Yes. This is actually why I went back and got my certification to teach in public schools. I wanted to teach a beginning course. In New Jersey now you have to be an apprentice and pass a test. I saw the need for teaching security and first considered high schools. I went to local vocational schools and I realized it would be difficult to pick and choose my students. Many of them would be juveniles whose records I couldn’t access for the sake of screening out potential criminals. Then I considered maybe teaching an evening course for community colleges. The result was that I got my certificate and went back to teach high school and I love it.

What is your course curriculum like?

I teach them where to go to get more education and teach them what they’ll need to know about. I encourage them to focus on a specific segment of locksmithing. When I started out, you could be a general practitioner. Today I wouldn’t even say I work on automotive because it’s been so long and it’s moved too far away from me. I did mostly electronics and access control. The world of door locks has pretty much stayed the same. Masterkeying and the actual physical key are becoming obsolete. Why use it when I can have a transponder that enables me to control things with a laptop even when flying in an airplane? For example, I am a GM of a company and I am able to go on my laptop to control the entrance of any individual to any area in my plant.

What other areas of interest are there for the up and coming locksmiths?

Forensics is a very big thing these days. We have TV shows that have glamorized it and lots of young people have gravitated towards it. The industry still needs forensic locksmiths since there are insurance companies, for example, that are begging for them. It’s quite fascinating. Again, we’re getting away from actual physical locksmithing. This is the most important tool we have nowadays. (Bob points to his head). It used to be that you had to be skilled with your hands, a craftsman. Today you have to have a lot more up top. Things change too fast and our tools do the work for us.

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