Editor’s Note: In a recent e-newsletter, Locksmith Ledger editor-in-chief Gale Johnson asked if the title ‘locksmith’ needs to be updated to “security technician.” Following are some of the responses. To sign up for the Notes from the Editor monthly e-newsletter and other Ledger e-newsletters, visit www.locksmithledger.com.
Thank you for your recent article regarding the evolving role of the locksmith technician and the public’s perception of it. This topic is relevant to our company’s developments over the years. I will share some comments about this, for what it’s worth.
We have been operating continuously for 73 years in our city, population over 5 million in the greater area. It has been with pride that we position ourselves as leaders in our market, in terms of professionalism and forward-thinking practices.
Approximately 20 years ago, we resolved to aggressively transition into the integration of mechanical and electronic security solutions.
It was after several years of debatable success that we came to terms with the fact that most target opportunities were not available to us, a service company that promoted itself expressly as a locksmith company. Our trading name for the first 60 years of operation was ABC Locksmiths. It was evident that facility managers did not perceive a “locksmith” company to be the right source for leading edge of electronic technology. The perception that a locksmith was a great source for mechanical hardware, but nothing more, could not be changed by us regardless of our intensive marketing efforts.
The decision was made to turn our back on the equity we had established in our locksmith name, and become ABC Security Access Systems. The risk was uncertain but our vision for the future demanded this change. We have transitioned into a company that has a 50/50 balance between mechanical and electronic security.
Ironically, we are frustrated by our new electronic market’s reluctance to utilize our company for their traditional locksmith requirements.
The lesson here is that the public perception of the security industry is stubbornly fixed on the perception that the divide between sophisticated electronic systems and architectural grade mechanical hardware solutions cannot be bridged by one provider.
I speak in general terms. We derive great satisfaction from those customers who take advantage of the complete integration package available from ABC; however, the market in general does not easily perceive it. For this reason, we have resurrected our trading name “ABC Locksmiths” for our marketing efforts in mechanical security.
It would be nice if one name did it all, but it has become obvious that we can’t change perception in a short period of time. We refer to this as “the curse of the L word.”
ABC Security Access Systems
Fight for Our Market Share
Having read your recent article, I have to agree for the most part. I'm Past President of OMLA (Oklahoma Master Locksmiths Association). It appears many of the younger set are unwilling to forgo the income that can be earned on a given Saturday plus the expense of feeding and rooming a family for a weekend, so many shows are poorly attended.
Oklahoma was the ninth state licensed for locksmiths, since then a few more have been added. Most of the States are not licensed and the locksmiths will find themselves on the outside looking in when most locking mechanisms are electro-mechanical and only licensed Alarm (Security Technicians) will be able to install them. The locksmiths will be lucky if they get to re-pin a Kwikset or Schlage lockset on someone's home.
I wish it weren't the case, but I have no doubt the industry is headed that way unless they get pro-active and fight for their fair market share. This Industry is a bunch of hard-headed, independent folks who are used to working alone and not sharing much. Unless our Industry learns to work together and support each other through associations, etc., we could be a dying breed. The Alarm Industry here and in Texas nearly dialed us completely out of existence. Were it not for the Oklahoma Master Locksmith Association working with legislators, ALOA, and related industries, we'd be in big trouble now. Please industry, wake up and realize if you want to keep it you'd better be willing to fight for it.
Mike McGrew, CRL
Mike's Locksmith Shop, Inc.
New Name Sought
I believe that we need a new updated name for our job description. I see automotive locksmiths, traditional locksmiths, and electronic locksmiths in our area. We concentrate on access control systems and we are still calling ourselves lock and safe technicians. I have been trying for years to come up with a better description for our company than what we are using, I hope you receive some good ideas.
Bob Doran, CML
Allied Lock & Safe Technicians, Inc.
ALOA / ISC Partnership?
It appears that there is an opportunity for ALOA to join forces with an industry that interfaces with locksmiths on every job encountered by one of its systems integrators installing electronic access control systems.
The ISC show is a great venue for ALOA to use to reach locksmiths and their end-user customers, not to mention the system integrators who need locksmiths to do their work. Perhaps the ALOA leadership is already considering this and that would be a great thing for both industries.
I manage electronic security measures for my organization's multiple campuses and our in-house locksmiths are involved with every access control change I implement. The reason? They maintain the doors that I add the electronic controls on! I need to ensure that they are comfortable with the changes and that we work together for the good of the organization.
The same would be true if ALOA joined w/ISC to bring system integrators, locksmiths and end user customers together. After all we all have to live with the NFPA and similar standards in our industries so why not collaborate on the show floors?
Just my thoughts coming from the other side of the locksmith industry.
Director of Security, Safety & PBX
San Antonio Community Hospital
Locksmith or security technician?
I often ask myself, "Why is it that the word 'locksmith' does not appear in any application where you have to select your profession?" With the introduction of access control, I think it will never appear in the future.
Gale, thanks for you notes.
AG Locksmith Inc.
Keep The Locksmith Name
The locksmith is a certified trade in B.C. and joins a worldwide proud tradition of providing a vital service to the people who need and rely on us. I would be opposed to denigrating any member of this unique profession by visualizing them as outdated or "traditional" because they possess the skills obtained by apprenticing. I would also oppose splintering or renaming parts of the trade by offering up a new name for work that should only be performed by a licensed, bonded and trade certified locksmith. Be it electrified or mechanical, if it is a lock then it should be within the jurisdiction of a locksmith.
I believe that Canadians have lost far too much of the pride in our own heritage and traditions due to the influx of more dominant influences. It would be a shame if we stood by and watched this Canadian tradition be set aside as passé in the interest of what is new. One Good EMF pulse from an overdue solar flare and we would all see the need for a"traditional" locksmith real quick and that is the old reality.
If it is being said that this is "the new reality" for locksmiths then I would prefer to stick to the truth and be proud of what i have learned and had hoped to pass on.
MIKE HINES J.C.L.
British Columbia, Canada
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