Ziptide March 2021

March 2, 2021

Fond Farewell to Gale Johnson

For me, Gale Johnson’s career in locksmithing has been nothing less than amazing. His influence on this industry has spanned many years and numerous changes from starting out in and then taking over his father’s lockshop just north of Chicago (founded in 1927 and continuing to this day), to developing tools, books and software for the locksmith trade; to working and consulting for manufacturers ABLOY, Fort Lock, Framon and many others; to inventing patents and essential tools way ahead of their time; to finally landing at the Locksmith Ledger to guide the magazine and industry with his insight and wisdom for our craft.

Gale’s career has had a positive impact like few others. He will always be an inspiration, a friend and colleague with an immense knowledge, dedication, creativity and understanding of this vocation that have made us all wiser, kinder, smarter and just plain better (except at tennis!).

Gale’s retirement is well-deserved after more than 60 years in this industry. I feel certain he will tackle retirement with the same grace as he did locksmithing. When’s the party … I have lots of stories!

— Clyde T. Roberson, CML, AHC, CPP, CMST

Medeco Security Locks

We only saw each other at trade shows (ALOA of course and the occasional Frank & Bill Shows). However, each time, there was a warm greeting. My small national automotive lock and key distribution firm wasn't a Locksmith Ledger advertiser, preferring direct mail as my marketing vehicle. My link to the industry publication was as an often-uncredited contributor to Jerry Levine’s monthly column.

I learned more about Gale’s life from his writings. What separated him from most was that he had and was living the life so similar to his core subscriber base — a lockshop shop owner. His editorials often reflected his local solution to a situation that was common across the country. We each shared the theme that the local lockshop had to learn to market itself to its community.

Our conversations often were about what each thought was the topic of the moment as we stood in trade-show aisles sharing thoughts. Often, his thought would trigger another topic in my mind. We looked at the industry from different viewpoints, yet he was always ready to learn a new detail. He was a person that I looked forward to “bumping into,” as the conversation was lively, we were both engaged and I always learned from each of them.

— Buzz Baylis

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