Locksmithing has always been a hand-me-down occupation. It is probably one of the most popular occupations to be passed through the family from father to son or daughter. One of the biggest reasons for this is that there have been few places to learn locksmithing except for being on the job. Once lock servicing procedures have been learned, the experts do not want to give their secrets away.
This system of keeping the secrets has worked for many decades because there have been few changes in the servicing methods. Pin tumbler locking systems dominated the field and once a person knew the fine points of servicing pin tumbler locks, the public beat a path to your door for their security needs.
Changes are occurring in the security industry. With increased use of electronics in many other sectors of our lives, the public has also expanded their requirements in the security field. Audit trails, keypads and CCTV are standard security items today.
These requirements are new, and few locksmiths from older generations have electronic expertise to “hand down”.
Electronic products generally require new and different servicing procedures. Electronic changes can be done much quicker than re-engineering a mechanical product, so new ideas can instantly make old products obsolete.
Most security product manufacturers recognize that they can only be successful if they have trained personnel in the field. In order to assure that their products are favored, they have developed training classes.
During the last few weeks I have attended free classes presented by both Assa Abloy and Ingersoll Rand. In both cases the classes were informative, both for learning about specific individual products and for receiving general information about locksmithing.
The disconcerting observation for me was that very few commercial locksmiths took advantage of these classes. The attendees were primarily end-users such as maintenance people from hospitals, universities and large facilities.
It appears that some security product manufacturers are concentrating on end-users. Without a base of knowledgeable commercial locksmiths to sell and maintain their products, there is no other way.
The need for security is increasing, but the need for selling and servicing traditional lock products is not increasing. Unless every locksmith takes the time to attend classes and learn about the security products of the future, people who do not call themselves locksmiths will be doing the job.