Notes from the Editor: Taken For Granted

April 2, 2019
With the advent of the Internet, Big Box store employees and the public can learn to do tasks that were formerly only done by locksmiths.

It's been a brutal winter of below zero temperatures, snow, rain and flooding. We probably have had similar winters in the past. In those days when the temperature dipped below zero, the first thought was whether your service vehicle would start. One too many pushes on the accelerator and the carburetor would surely flood. Jumper cables were a necessity. With the advent of fuel injection, hard starting is a thing of the past. Starting a vehicle in any weather conditions is taken for granted.

The house I grew up in had a coal burning furnace. My alarm clock every morning was when my parents rattled the furnace grates as the ashes of yesterday were removed from the furnace and fresh coal was hand-shoveled onto the remaining hot embers to start another day. One corner of our basement was used as a coal shed. Whenever I was locked out I opened the coal shed window and slid down the pile of coal to gain entrance. Now with automation, setting room temperature is accomplished with a twist of a thermostat. Natural gas or propane waiting at your disposal is taken for granted.

Locksmiths have spent the last 100 years taking things for granted. Locks and keys were mysterious objects which in the public’s view were left to a locksmith when servicing was required. The Information Revolution changed everything. Knowledge is as close as the nearest computer screen.

Yesterday a subscriber sent in a picture he took at a big box store. One employee was showing another employee how to change pin tumbler combinations. On the same day another locksmith reported that auto parts stores were now renting or selling tools for programming vehicle transponder keys. The implications were that we owned these jobs which is a weak argument.

This does not signal the end of our great industry but does show that we can no longer take business for granted. New ways and means must be found to nurture the relevance that locksmiths have always enjoyed.