Education By Association

As long as there is a need for security, there will be a need for locksmiths.

As long as there is a need for mere physical security, there will be a need for locksmiths.

However, because the profession is evolving from pure physical security to include electronics, biometrics and a myriad of other high security devices and needs, we are all going to need more education to ensure our survival.

On a recent Saturday, three instructors and 14 students met to communicate about impressioning keys (Photo 1).

The instructors revealed why it is possible to impression keys, how to impression keys and when to impression keys. The students responded with stories of the difficulties they experienced when trying to impression keys, their problems, their frustrations (Photo 2) and the thrills of their successes. After all was said and done, the students got the opportunity to practice what they had learned under the helpful eyes of the instructors.

The students ranged in ages from their 20s to their 60s. (Photo 3) They had varying degrees of experience, but all wanted to improve their ability to impression keys. They all recognized the benefit of education provided by a local association that is inexpensive in cost yet priceless in value.

The three instructors, Carlton, Larry and Norm, have more than 100 years of combined knowledge and experience. Each has taught individually or as a team many times before on many of the specialties in our profession. Two of the instructors are active members of a local or regional association. The third is an ex-member, now a life member, presently working for an industry distributor. Each in their time, sometimes more than once, were officers or board members of the association.

This association, The Florida West Coast Locksmiths Association (FWCLA) has been in continuous existence since 1969. It draws its members from the many counties surrounding Tampa, Fla. FWCLA holds nine or 10 monthly business and educational meetings every calendar year, plus at least one full Saturday or weekend training class each quarter. At every monthly meeting, 30 to 60 minutes are dedicated to some kind of instructional presentation. Even the short business portion of a meeting has an educational twist. A "good of the order" portion allows members to pose questions or to share discoveries. Recently, James from Auburndale shared an interchangeable core lock problem he overcame when he discovered the Schlage Q (as in quarter) keyway core would accept a Kwikset-like key blank. This allowed him the flexibility of using an interchangeable core where it was needed while keying it to an existing system.

For the other two or three months, there are planned social events or the South Eastern Regional Locksmiths Association Conference ( for all members to attend. SERLAC's 2005 show is scheduled Oct. 5-9 at the Holiday Inn International Resort Drive in Orlando and will include classes, seminars, a trade show and ALOA PRP testing.

In the past months, FWCLA has had manufacturer's representatives at monthly meetings, freely introducing members to new products or reminding them about existing products. They have also had insurance, credit card and financial advice company representatives give presentations about these important business and personal services. Recently, a truck salesman brought a new diesel-powered Dodge Sprinter truck to a meeting for members to clamber over. Its engine is designed to last hundreds of thousands of miles while providing mileage of 22 miles per gallon.

On past weekends, FWCLA members have been taught or FWCLA has hosted or sponsored paid training classes on: Automotive Lock Servicing, Motorcycle Lock Servicing, Electronic Safe Lock Servicing, the intricacies of pinning the Corbin Russin Interchangeable Core locks, safe opening, investigative locksmithing and key impressioning.

Have you noticed the pattern here? All of this education was offered, made available and affordable by an association: a group of like-minded individuals joined together for the benefit of all. The education did not occur by some magical or ethereal relationship or connection. It required a physical entity. Without the association, there would have been no education.

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