Electronic Locksmithing Survey

Identifying trends in electronic security is part of being a security professional. You may identify trends while you are actually taking part in setting them, since vendors respond to market demand. You may find it beneficial to see what your peers are doing so you can either learn from their mistakes or follow in their footsteps.

Not all locksmiths have embarked on the journey into the electronics age. Some have successful businesses and are able to maintain volume servicing their accounts. It has a lot to do with location. If the population density and ratios of commercial and institutional accounts keep your phone ringing, it’s hard to argue with success.

Traditional locksmithing has certainly gone through its share of changes, but the core skill sets and the art of mechanical locks and locksmithing have remained basically the same.

But the handwriting is on the wall, and our best predictions are that today’s locksmiths will likely have to make some adjustments as customers turn to electronics.

We interviewed four locksmiths hoping to get a feel for what is happening out there on the front lines. We discovered that locksmiths are creative entrepreneurs who honor traditions but are not afraid of the challenge to try something new. And it is all in the name of security for their clients.

 

Neff’s Safe Lock & Security, Lancaster and York, PA

This successful locksmithing firm has two locations and web sites www.lock.com, AskYourLocksmith.com and NeffsSafeLockandSecurity.com. Thanks to Bill Neff, CPP, PSP, CML and president, for taking our survey.

Neff describes his business as a full service physical security company providing service mainly for industrial and commercial customers. Specialties are access control, security cameras, automotive transponders and automotive remotes. The company has seven vans, three employees dedicated to each specialty and three employees who are cross-trained. The service area is a mix of urban, suburban, rural, 60-mile service radius.

Products serviced and installed include:

Electronic locking devices: Rutherford Controls, HES, Securitron, Von Duprin, & Trine

Video surveillance: Bosch, LTS, Pelco, Aiphone & ARM Electronics

Alarms: Honeywell burglar alarms. We do not sell fire alarms.

High energy door operators: LCN

Low energy door operators: Arrow

Delayed egress: Securitron and Von Duprin

Access control systems: Cansec, RS2 & Millenium

Standalone access: Cansec

Do you get calls from integrators and dealers to install just the electric lock for them? No, we refuse to do so.

Are you licensed for electrical work and low voltage? What other licenses are required in your state/region? No licensing is required in my area.

Do you commission the access control software and perform network configuration? Yes

Have you taken specific product training for access control? Yes and I also teach it. Too many to mention.

What trends do you predict with regards to the locksmith profession?

Basic Locksmithing is declining. Electronics and High Security Locks seem to be increasing especially due to the current security challenges that face business, schools and government today. I did a survey in late 2012 and there are presently more than 619 companies just in the USA that provide access control & identity management products.

What trends do you predict with regards to the electric locking technology?

This is a market that seems to be growing at a nice rate. With the advent of the Internet and advances in technology like web browsers, iPads and smart phones, I do not see a slow down but continual growth in the access control sector of the security industry.

Access control & security cameras have been evolving quite rapidly and a lot of legacy systems need to be upgraded to meet customers’ demand. Anytime you can show a customer a good ROI (Return On Investment), it is a win-win for both the customer and the security professional company.

What I find to be successful is to have working displays in the show rooms providing actual demos of the various systems with a large screen display also listing the products and services that we offer. We use the internet and smart phones to show integration of security cameras and access control out in the field when I meet a potential prospect for such services.

 

Evanston Locksmiths, Evanston, IL

Evanston Locksmiths has been in operation since 1927. Services offered are approximately 60 percent commercial, 20 percent residential and 20 percent key cutting and walk-in business.

The company has four service vehicles and two inside locksmiths. All employees are well-rounded, traditional locksmiths. The shop offers opportunities to employees to take seminars in hopes they will develop new interests and skills. It is optional and as yet has not borne fruit. We are a busy shop and are not motivated to broaden our offerings, says General Manager Mike Radom.

Radom describes the service market as urban, with a 15-mile service radius. “It does not pay for us to put in windshield time. We keep inventory in the vans and the trucks have radios so they can roll from job to job rather than return to the shop in between jobs,” he adds.

Products serviced and installed include:

Electronic locking devices: Strikes, magnets and standalones

Video surveillance: No

Alarms: No

High or low energy door operators: No. We are in a mature market where there are established vendors. If we get a call for a door operator, we pass it along to another company in our area who specializes in door operators.

Delayed egress: Occasionally

Access Control Systems: Mostly standalones, and we prefer AlarmLock Trilogy.

Do you service electric locking equipment? Yes, we can address operational problems with locking devices and power supplies, etc.

Do you get calls from integrators and dealers to install just the electric lock for them? Yes, but the trend is they do it all themselves.

Are you licensed for electrical and low voltage work? No

What other licenses are required in your state/region?

Locksmith business license, PERC card for employees.

Note: The Permanent Employee Registration Card (PERC) is currently being used exclusively in Illinois. It acts as a proof for the state that the PERC holder has a clean criminal record. Massage therapists, locksmiths, school bus drivers, private detectives and security guards need a PERC in order to legally perform their job.

Do you know who your AHJ is?

There are several and we contact them when it is necessary. We also have ex-fireman locksmith on the payroll.

Do you commission the access control software and perform network configuration? No.

Have you taken specific product training for access control? Was it beneficial and would you recommend it to others planning to do access control? Yes, from Alarm Lock.

What trends do you predict with regards to the locksmith profession?

Electronics are coming on strong and will take over even more of our industry, probably within the next five years. The demand for electronic locks will continue to grow.

 

Peifer Lock, Memphis, TN

Peifer Lock offers a full line of standard services but specializes in commercial work, according to president Glen Peifer.

The company has a website, www.PeiferLock.com, and nine trucks. Three employees are dedicated primarily electrical but can do standard lockwork as well. Five do safe work and two do automotive. About half are cross-trained, but we are working on cross-training as many as we can, Peifer says.

His service area is 95 percent urban but the service radius is up to 200 miles.

Products serviced and installed include:

Electronic locking devices: Maglocks, strikes and standalone battery-operated locks from Alarm Lock, Kaba, Cyberlock

Video surveillance: Not at this time

Alarms: No

High or low energy door operators: Arrow low energy operators

Delayed egress: Securitron

Access control systems: HID, Flex

Do you get calls from integrators and dealers to install just the electric lock for them? Yes

What licenses do you have/are required in your region? Locksmith licenses are required and we are licensed for electrical and low voltage work.

Do you commission the access control software and perform network configuration? No

Have you taken specific product training for access control? Yes, Kaba, Videx, AlarmLock

What trends do you predict with regards to the locksmith profession?

I expect the successful lockshops to become more of a full-service integrator of all security products. I expect to see an explosion of electronic access control products mostly in the standalone but online variety.

 

Browns Lock & Safe, Charlottesville, VA

Browns Lock & Safe offers security services from A-Z, with the exception of armed guard services, says owner Stewart Brown. “In this economy I do not feel comfortable turning anything away, even if it requires that we sub some of the effort out to others.”

The service areas spans 250 miles of Virginia and West Virginia. In the past 3 years we have executed over 1/3 of our business in areas in excess of 200 miles distant from the shop.

His lockshop has separate divisions for each specialty. “Although we currently have separate divisions, we need to more fully train some of the techs so they can work in more areas. It is becoming harder and harder to keep electronic work separate from mechanical work, and more and more we find that the mechanical only techs really need to have some basic skills in low voltage installations,” Brown says.

The shop has two passenger vehicles and eight Econoline 250 vans.

Three employees are fully electronic techs, but can also do some mechanical work; two mechanical techs can barely function in the electronic world, and two are more mechanical than electrical, but also have some good skills in the electrical.

How many have cross-trained?

We are constantly cross training. I try to get all techs to factory training several times per year, and the training in the past several years has been mostly electrical or electro-mechanical.

About how long have you been offering each specialty?

Almost since the business began back in 1950. We started by offering basic mechanical locksmith services but very soon thereafter started installing alarm systems. Around 1972, we hired the first tech who was dedicated almost full time to alarm installations.

Products serviced and installed include:

Electronic locking devices: IR and Kaba

Video surveillance: Mostly CCTV, analog and/or digital. We have done some wireless installation and hope to do more. We chase video jobs that also require access control or heavy and difficult mechanical work that would chase off some of the video-only companies.

Alarms: Yes, mostly Honeywell. We do not have a fully proactive alarm department and need to do more in this field. Mostly we service clients who come to us by way of our telephone book advertising.

High energy door operators: No.

Low energy operators: DORMA, LCN, Falcon and Gyrotech. We also service any brand as long as we can get parts. We have two techs who are AAADM certified.

Delayed egress: Yes

Complete access control systems: Galaxy, Millenium, Vanderbilt (Schlage SMS), Kaba, and RS2. RS-485 networks from most, wireless networks from Kaba and Schlage

Standalone access control: Primarily Kaba and Schlage

Do you get calls from integrators and dealers to install just the electric lock for them?

Sometimes, especially with Kaba Mas X09 work, as we have five techs certified on the X09. Sometimes on access control bids we are approached by a company far from the site who needs installation labor. But in these situations we tend to dominate the competition because we are the low-cost, all-in-one source provider.

Are you licensed for electrical and low voltage work?

We have not enough need for high voltage work to have a fully licensed electrician on staff. Our contractor license is the unlimited Class A, with low voltage electrical certification.

What other licenses are required in your state/region? VA DCJS, City Business License, State SSC License

Do you know who your AHJ is?

Certainly, and it varies from region to region, city to city. We keep in touch with Fire Marshall and Building Officials in each area. We are big believers in the code and take to heart that it describes only the minimum acceptable requirements. And we make sure to send techs to code training seminars on a regular basis.

Do you know which building codes are enforced in your jurisdiction?

Yes, and we have most of them in the shop. We find the ones we refer to most often to be NFPA 101 Life Safety, NEC, NFPA 80 for Fire Doors, and the ADA standards.

Do you commission the access control software and perform network configuration?

Yes, we are also a Microsoft Partner. We sell and install Windows Server OS, Microsoft SQL Server and other server related software. Our largest system is a county in West Virginia where we have networked 28 separate schools, each several miles apart from the others.

Have you taken specific product training for access control?

Yes, CBORD, Schlage SMS, Galaxy, Kaba. If you want to sell access control you should have factory training.

What trends do you predict with regards to the locksmith profession?

More wireless, more networks. Multi-technology credentials, ability to unlock your home, start your car, get into your bank safe deposit box, everything, from one multi-technology credential.

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