Notes From The Editor: Separate Segments

Many articles have been written about what the word 'locksmith' means. While working in our family locksmith business during my teenage years, we took on any job remotely connected with security. In addition to all the normal locksmith services of that era, we also rebuilt door closers and repaired luggage. The previous owner of our locksmith business even included gunsmithing as part of his list of services.

After a few years my father discovered that an increasing percentage of his business centered on lock installations. This led him to hire a new employee expressly for installations such as deadbolts in residences or door closers and exit devices in commercial buildings. In forty years on the job, this employee never once serviced a car lock or changed a safe combination. In retrospect, my father had hired a 'specialist.' Even those many decades ago, his locksmith business had become separated into segments.

Locksmith segments such as safe locks, auto locks, electronic security and even key duplication require much more knowledge and much more investment than even just ten years ago.

If a locksmith wants to service vehicles, an investment in transponder keys is necessary. In order to be prepared to service most popular vehicles, several dozen different blank types are needed.  Add in the cost of programming or/and cloning tools and the investment can escalate into several thousand dollars. If you are an auto specialist, the cost is worth the investment.

Safe opening is another specialty segment. A locked safe can become a serious challenge if you are not familiar with what lies inside. Education, safe manuals, drill rigs and scopes are necessary ingredients in order to profit as a safe expert. Without a sizeable investment in education and tools, safe opening is best left to others.

Access control is the latest locksmith frontier. Single-door electronic access control products are similar to their mechanical counterparts in size and method of installation. Adding more doors or features to a system is where knowledge and experience are more necessary. Each manufacturer has its own programming procedures. Many access control jobs require the mating parts from several manufacturers in order to accomplish customer requests. Although access control work does not require a huge investment in tools, an investment in training is essential.

Every man or woman in the locksmith business was once considered as a "jack of all trade" person who could solve any security problem. Learning every facet of locksmithing today is expensive, time consuming and in most cases unprofitable. Today the most practical businessperson is the one who decides which segment of locksmithing is most in demand in a given area and then concentrates on being the best he or she can be for that segment. Locksmithing has become a group of separate segments with few similarities between each segment.