Editor's Note: The editors of Locksmith Ledger are pleased to present an expanded version of our Icons of the Industry feature article from our 65th Anniversary coverage in November 2004. In interviewing these industry leaders, we realized that their accomplishments were far too numerous to fit in a...
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Editor's Note: The editors of Locksmith Ledger are pleased to present an expanded version of our Icons of the Industry feature article from our 65th Anniversary coverage in November 2004. In interviewing these industry leaders, we realized that their accomplishments were far too numerous to fit in a three- or four-page magazine article. In fact, each one is worthy of their own in-depth feature article.
Jack Berg started his career in the hardware industry in 1962 and quickly won favor with the locksmith community by becoming an authority on the products he sold. Two years later, at the request of local locksmiths, he launched Stone & Berg Wholesale Locksmith Supply and soon after, developed his own locksmith supply catalog and price list.
"I had no intention of being in business at all. I was a philosophy major, in preparation for a social work career. My first employment was as a YMCA Youth Director, but as my family started, I realized that I also had to make a living to support them, so I went into the family lumber business. Getting "no kicks" out of 2x4's, I started the hardware business that I mentioned earlier," Berg says.
As the wholesale end of his business thrived, Berg dropped out of the retail sector, referring that business to local locksmiths in the Worcester, Mass., area. As business grew, he added more lock lines and started to service locksmiths throughout New England, even distributing some product lines nationwide.
"My start in the locksmith supply industry was enhanced through the cooperation and advice of other distributors, many of whom I count as good friends, and the help of local reps, and the manufacturers that they represented," he adds.
In 1993, Berg left Stone & Berg, and is currently employed by Clark Security Products as Product Director, working out of Moody Beach, ME.
Over the years, he says he has watched locksmithing advanced from a craft based on closely held secrets to an industry that willingly and proactively shared information, processes and procedures with those who were new to the trade and were not only interested in their own development, but wished to improve the craft. This happened with associations, distributors, manufacturers and trade publications offering continuing education through classes, seminars and articles on various products.
Another major change has been triggered by the purchase of many smaller independent manufacturers by large corporations. This had both positive and negative effects, according to Berg. When a purchased company was allowed to continue operating as a distinct entity, it was a benefit to the industry, allowing these product lines to develop and grow. But when a smaller manufacturer was absorbed, the identity (trade name) of their product line was lost and became confusing for the locksmith and the end user.
Berg would like to be remembered for "a love of life, the industry we are in, and a sense of humor. AND for the message I leave for all, to "Keep smilin'."
You could say that Aaron Fish was born into the locksmith business. The son of a Polish immigrant, Fish's locksmith father settled the family in Montreal and by age 8 young Aaron was already cutting keys. By his 17th birthday Fish had established his own business, the Canadian Key & Lock Supply Company, selling keys and accessories from the back of a bicycle and conducting business out of his mother's kitchen.
An entrepreneurial spirit and tireless work ethic would soon take a young Fish to heights even he hadn't imagined. Fish earned an "in" with the government by helping the RCMP establish its Lock Division inside the department's Crime Division Lab in Ottawa in the early 1950s. A decade later Bell Canada would come to Fish looking for his company to develop a mechanical push-button lock. Fish approached several major lock manufacturers looking to partner with them on this project, yet it was Simplex who finally agreed to work with the small Canadian company. "They had the chamber, so it was our job to turn it into a locking device," said Fish. What they eventually came up with was the predecessor of the ubiquitous Simplex 1000 Pushbutton lock.