Fred Kuhar, 20 years old, works for Fox Chase Lock & Key, Inc. in Philadelphia which is owned by Ron Marcinkowski. Ron has been a customer and friend for many years and was enthusiastic about his young employee sitting down with me for this interview. For information about Fox Chase Lock & Key, visit the web site www.foxlock.com.
I began by explaining to Fred that we were interested in what the young locksmith had to say since they are the future of our industry. Following are Locksmith Ledger’s questions and Kuhar’s answers.
So Fred, how did it begin? When did you start working here?
I’ve been working here about 1 ½ years. I didn’t know what to do out of high school and was attending college taking basic liberal arts classes like English and Math on a part-time basis. During college I was working at a deli and got laid off midway through my first semester.
How did you know Ron? (Owner of Fox Chase Lock & Key, Inc.)
My mother went to high school with Ron’s wife and I would baby sit his kids occasionally. One day he had to cancel baby sitting and asked if I wanted to come help out in the shop cleaning up, etc. and that’s how it began.
What did you think about it the first day you spent working in a shop?
The first day, I cut a few keys and swept a lot. It was hard identifying keys at first; just finding them was a big challenge.
The first couple of weeks I’d be there with Ron, I’d listen to how he answered the phone, what kind of questions he asked. When someone came in for a key, I’d try to figure it out myself and ask Ron if I needed help.
Did you feel comfortable working there at the beginning?
There’s a lot to learn so I wouldn’t say I was comfortable. There’s a lot you have to just know and the only way to know is by doing it. Lots of random tidbits of information.
What happened when you started answering the phones?
We have DeskTop Dispatching. I would go through all the fields, getting the info it asked for like name, phone number and what they needed. Now I could write down quickly what I need to know but that helped at the beginning. We have a price list next to the phone so I had that handy. But lots of things aren’t on that list so I’d ask Ron and he would make it up on the spot.
What are some of the typical requests you get from customers here in the shop?
We do a lot of rekeys. Let’s say it’s an eviction. We’ll tell them the trip charge and we’ll go over every possibility; if they have a key or they don’t, if they want new locks, etc. I just write down what I told them.
Could you see yourself locksmithing in the next ten years?
Yes I can. I’m not 100 percent sure I want to do it for the rest of my life but it is something I can see make a living at. I want to move out of my parent’s house, have my own truck, etc.
Tell me more about the scope of work you do here. You do rekeys, lock installs and replacements, and what else?
We actually do a lot of commercial work. Service providers call us to go to different stores, I’d say 60-70 percent commercial and the rest residential.
Which do you prefer more, commercial or residential?
I guess it’s a toss up, depending on the individual customer. My favorite is the kind that will give you a break! The other day I accidentally put my elbow through a customer’s window and they were very nice about it and I learned not to do that anymore. I’m sure some of the other customers I’ve had would have been screaming and hollering.
Have there been jobs you left wishing you hadn’t been there?
Definitely, especially when they don’t believe what I’m telling them. They see I’m a younger person. I could tell them I’m absolutely sure about something and it won’t matter! One customer’s file cabinet had been burglarized and the door was completely separated at the hinge and it wasn’t repairable and needed to be replaced. I tried to explain but instead they insisted that Ron come look even though he explained that he would charge them to come out again.
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