Tidal Waves

Sept. 2, 2014
ALOA should help its members to become profitable locksmiths in this 21st century electronic era

My memories of ALOA conventions extend back to childhood days when my father drove the family across the country to various ALOA conventions.  Conventions in those early years were bi-yearly.  The two-year wait between conventions made each one a can't-miss event. At the end of every ALOA convention my father would strike up bargains with exhibitors. Many manufacturers would rather sell their exhibit products at a discount instead of paying shipping charges to send products back to the factory.  On the way home our car was always loaded with key machines or locksets of some sort.

Since the late 1970s to 2014, I have not missed one ALOA convention. I once drove to a Kansas City convention early in the week to take an automotive class, then drove home to Chicago and back to Kansas City again on the weekend to visit the convention exhibits. My ALOA experiences extend from enjoying the educational experiences as a locksmith to teaching classes for Abloy at ALOA and now to managing a Locksmith Ledger booth as an exhibitor. These personal 40-plus years of ALOA convention experiences can be lumped together to produce a rather clear picture of what ALOA conventions were and what they are. 

In the early years every booth contained representatives right from the factory. They could answer technical questions and their latest products were on display.  Product sales were not allowed.

A good percentage of the booths today are sales oriented. Products on display already exist and are not a surprise. One booth had used parts for sale and people sat on the floor to sort through parts like a sight seen at flea markets. The big ALOA draw for locksmiths to drive or fly long distances to discover new products no longer exists. These same products can be seen and purchased at almost every local distributor show. 

The solution is to find another reason to attract you and me to ALOA conventions.  Locks have become commodities. Today every lock is the same size and internet sites show exactly how to replace them. At a "State of the Industry" meeting, ALOA representatives cited concerns about the tidal wave of scammers and how alarm people are changing our locksmith licensing laws.  Instead of worrying about things we cannot change, ALOA should be assisting us by concentrating on what can be changed to become a profitable locksmith in this 21st century electronic era.  So far that does not seem to be near the top of the ALOA list.