Back Page, May 2021

May 3, 2021

10 Years Ago

The May 2011 cover topic was padlocks. Weather-resistant cam locks, dial combination cam locks and front-faced, resettable Sesamee padlocks from CCL Security were featured. Master Lock introduced ADA-compliant locker locks. Tim O’Leary wrote about advances in video technology, a topic we continue to revisit as the technology changes. According to an article on boosting revenue with decorative door hardware, mixing and matching of Grade 1 commercial and lesser grade residential door hardware was becoming a major trend in commercial (and even residential) projects. Rich Franken installed the SARGENT 8200 mortise lock “the easy way,” using Major Manufacturing’s HIT-66-272 template. In our annual automotive supplement, STRATTEC reported on Ford Motor’s new 80-Bit Texas Instrument technology transponder system, beginning with 2011 model Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. Gale Johnson checked out the new Miracle-A5 key machine from Keyless Ride, capable of originating most types of sidewinder, standard single-sided and double-sided automotive keys all on the same machine.

20 Years Ago

Safe servicing was the topic of our May 2001 Locksmith Ledger. Jerry Levine tested an AMSEC KPL2000S digital safe lock. Gale Johnson reported on the batteryless Mas-Hamilton 100V electronic safe lock. It generates its own power by spinning the dial. Lloyd Seliber explained the importance of sequence of progression (SOP) when generating masterkey systems. Milt Wolferseder serviced some Major round door safe locks. Jerry Levine participated in the installation of a new hollow metal door, frame and hardware. Jerry Levine also explained how easy it was to replace a concealed floor check. John Grist looked at some ornate labels from antique safes. Major Manufacturing showed their mortising jig for installing Adams Rite latches and deadbolts on aluminum doors. Tony Vigil, High Tech Tools, provided instruction on unlocking a 2001 Hyundai Elantra. Tiny serviced that unpopular Pontiac Aztek, but fortunately the information is also valuable for many other GM car models. Wade Landrum visited the Mutual Safe Co. in California to report on their Rhino line of safes. Dave Franchuk serviced an "Old York" safe. An early Tim O’Leary article provided a Security Lock update.

Best of Gale Johnson

Editor-In-Chief Gale Johnson always could be counted on to share his expertise with his fellow locksmiths, in person, on the phone and in his monthly newsletters. It’s impossible to select the best article written during his 32-year career. Instead, we share one of our favorites on one of Gale’s favorite topics, how to start and run a successful locksmith business. This appeared in September 2018 and was titled Follow the Vertical Route.

A locksmith in the Midwest developed a positive business relationship with local police departments in his area. The police department in his small town asked whether he could schedule an inspection, cleaning and the repair of their jail door locks. This locksmith agreed, and word quickly spread to other police departments in the region. What began as a one-time job has become a recurring annual source of income.

Steve Young, one of our writers, has become an expert in automotive locksmithing. For many years, Steve has written a vehicle opening manual, and he opened his own locksmith business in the Florida panhandle area. When auto dealers have a vehicle that has lost keys or lock problems, they know just who to call.

A locksmith in California was searching for a special electric strike that he couldn’t locate. During our conversation, he explained that he no longer does locksmith work for the public but works as a subcontractor installing hardware for integrators. This locksmith said his business was better than ever.

Over the years, people have called Locksmith Ledger asking about how to start a locksmith business. My first reply always has been that it requires a population of about 25,000 to support a locksmith business. My thinking has always been that as the population number falls below 25,000, the amount of lockouts, lost keys and demands for other locksmith services will fall by the same percentage. I was basing my assumption on the idea that a locksmith would continue to do jobs of any and all types connected with security products.

Technological advances in every aspect of our business have prompted locksmiths to specialize. This changes the population equation requirement. Cost of training, tools and stocking a large inventory of parts has prompted locksmiths to choose vertical markets, such as safe repair, vehicle lock servicing, access control or hardware installation subcontracting. This is a good thing. No longer is a locksmith business confined to its small surrounding vicinity. Nobody is preventing you from moving up these individual vertical markets as far as you want to go.