Legends of the Lock Industry

When SHDA past presidents, Al Hoffman and Virl Mullins, spoke at the 40th anniversary annual conference of SHDA in April of 2010, few of us would have imagined that less than ten months later, Al Hoffman would be gone. When Virl and Al prepared a walk...

Al truly loved the industry and loved the people in it. I still remember how Al convinced me when I was young and uncertain about my future that the locksmith industry was a good one for me and that it was noble to become a manager at a locksmith distributor, that it was as good a job as could be found anywhere. Still, what I think made Al truly special was that Al listened to me as if I mattered, no matter how little I knew. He listened to everyone that way, respectfully, truly interested and inquisitive about what others thought and what they accomplished. There are few people in any walk of life who are gifted enough to listen well and really teach, who also loved to be taught. Al was such a believer in education that one of his last wishes was for anyone who wanted to honor his memory to contribute to the Ben Silver Education Fund at SHDA, 105 Eastern Avenue, Suite 104, Annapolis, MD 21403 (www.shda.org).

How can you measure what these legends have given us? Try to imagine what this industry would have been without them. Imagine the locksmith industry without HPC or H. Hoffman or IDN or Security Lock Distributors or Arrow or Commonwealth or KSP. Their contributions to SHDA and the locksmith industry are incalculable. Consider also the families they raised, the jobs they created, the good will they cherished… the gifts of their lives to us all.

I think of Doug’s smile at SHDA’s one-on-one conferences each year, the new machines and tools that Jerry showed us with so much enthusiasm. I can still hear Ernie’s voice on the phone, asking about my dad and telling me he had the book I wrote on the nightstand next to his bed. I remember Larry talking about new products and promotions with his typical gusto and making it easy for our company to do business with his company, whether it was Fort, Ilco, or Securitron. Look at the incredible growth of Security Lock Distributors and imagine the industry without Sid and his sons. Think of locksmiths in Boston without Commonwealth’s Eddie and his family. Then, mourn for the future of the industry without a young mind and soul like Andy. And if you are able, try to comprehend the industry without the steady hand and guiding voice of Al Hoffman.

Sadly, our extended family of locksmiths, distributors, and manufacturers must go on without them. Yet, we still have our storied memories and our imaginations. I imagine that these eight extra-ordinary gentlemen are having their own mini-SHDA conference in their own section of the universe. Distributor members Al and Eddie and Sid and Andy are lined up on one side of the table and manufacturer members Larry, Doug, Ernie, and Jerry are lined up on the other. The conversations are lively and cordial, their memories vibrant, mixed with laughs and new ideas and questions about us, their families and friends.

Even without dreams of the afterlife, we can share our memories of these eight great souls and use their lives as our guides. We can focus on doing business the right way, humble and honest. Like them, we can be loving, devoted family members, or simply be friends, passionate and encouraging. We can listen to each other, openly, empathically, knowing our lives are short and each day may be our last.


Arnie Goldman is the president of IDN-Hardware Sales, Inc. of Michigan and a member of the SHDA Industry Advocacy Committee.

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