Future Forecast

July 2, 2020

Recessions that occurred since World War II slowed the economy. After each downturn, the locksmith industry either wasn’t affected or actually flourished, because the public became more security-conscious. Locks and keys continued to be the method of choice. Prior economic recessions didn’t affect the locksmith’s traditional business of installing and servicing mechanical locking systems.

During the past few weeks, many companies sponsored webinars featuring their latest products. One of these webinars demonstrated an automated key machine that originated laser-type automotive keys. The presenter showed how his machine could originate keys easily. He then tried the key in an old door lock cylinder as a final test.

Most vehicles no longer have door locks. Even without the pandemic, vehicle security rapidly is changing from the use of mechanical laser keys to keyless electronic remotes. Another indication is Lishi’s recent move from automotive and into commercial-lock picking tools.

Residential and commercial buildings also have moved toward electronic security, but COVID-19 is forcing a quicker changeover. Mechanical lock systems require physical interaction (touching) to operate a lever, knob, exit device or handle. Lock companies are concentrating on developing touchless security products. Automatic door operators and motion sensors are becoming new favorites.

COVID-19 signals an end to many of the procedures we have depended on for a century or more. Once-popular companies in our industry are gone. Other companies and distributors have merged or changed their product mix.

All is not lost. My memory goes back to when my father charged 35 cents for a duplicate key. Toyota dealers now charge $240 to furnish and program a new remote. When the time comes to put our masks away, locksmithing will be a completely new occupation. Prepare by throwing away your tryout keys and begin watching every available webinar on the internet.