June 4, 2012

In our June, 1992 issue, Mark Bates, MBA Associates, wrote a guest commentary titled "The Crossroad." Mark Bates wrote, "We are torn between the proven past and the uncertain future. We are faced with a dilemma which could turn thousands of locksmiths into dinosaurs overnight. The crisis that faces us is the introduction of the electronic lock and its subsequent rejections or embracement by our industry".

Mark Bates further wrote, "We have a deep subconscious comprehension of the way the physical world functions, countless generations of our ancestors have observed it before us. Now we must take a leap of faith and consciously put our trust into something that cannot be observed by the unaided eye, electronics."

Finally Mark Bates wrote, "Our unwillingness to learn how to install and service electronics could bring about a shift in service work that none of us wants- a shift from using locksmiths to service locks to using electronic technicians."  

The Security Hardware Distributors Association (SHDA) annual convention is held each spring. Manufacturers display their latest products and distributors place orders for the coming year. SHDA kindly provides Locksmith Ledger with an opportunity to visit with manufacturers during the convention to see what will be appearing on locksmith distributor shelves during the coming months.  With few exceptions, products displayed by manufacturers at the latest SHDA meetings were mechanical in nature.  Some manufacturers who make both electronic and mechanical products had no electronic items in sight.    

Each time I see actor Jim Carrey, he reminds me of his role in Dumb and Dumber. Lucille Ball will always be synonymous with Lucy. In the same way, is it possible that locksmiths will always be typecast as only mechanical lock specialists?   

We have had 20 years to digest the comments Mark Bates made in 1992.  It is not too late, but his predictions are coming true in some instances.  The public is usually not concerned about who upgrades their security requirements as long as that security provider is competent.  It is up to each of us in the locksmith profession to educate ourselves about emerging technologies and then to inform the public that a locksmith is their best choice to get the job done right no matter what their security needs may be.