The Results Are In!

Feb. 13, 2023
Locksmiths show their marketing and organization skills in their work vans.

Locksmith Ledger received 20 outstanding entries in our service van contest, so our judges had some difficult decisions to make. We thank everyone for submitting images and information on their mobile offices.

Our contest was judged in the following categories: Best Exterior, Best Interior Storage, Best Interior Workspace and Best Innovation. In addition, one overall winner was named.

Best Overall

Top honors go to ReKey Express, Montgomery, Texas, for the service vehicle known as “Lockzilla.” This former 1997 Ford E-350 El Dorado Coach bus is huge, with ample workspace, as well as an air-conditioned customer waiting area. Its wide-open spaces accommodate multiple workbenches and key machines, and there’s plenty of tool storage under the workbenches.

Clearly a rig this big isn’t designed for taking frequent service calls in the high-traffic suburban Houston service area. But it certainly stands out and makes an impression on customers.

“Our primary goal was to make a large, functional rig to be unique for the purposes of marketing and branding,” explains owner Roger Courts Jr. “In addition, to that end, providing an environment out in the field where customers could be comfortable inside from the Texas heat worked well in many instances.”

Technicians also benefit from the climate-controlled conditions on large, multiday rekey and hardware projects. Having a shop on-site for the use and benefit of multiple technicians has been a uniquely valuable experience, Courts says.

Lockzilla also works well to promote ReKey Xpress at local community events and on the ReKey Xpress website (www.rekeyxpresslocksmithtx.com) and Facebook page. Check out the conversion at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIe5fMc_vPo.

Customers definitely have been curious and have spent more time inside Lockzilla while visiting with locksmiths, Courts says.

“Many times customers have made themselves at home inside to chat with us while we’re working on an automobile ignition or locks that are being rekeyed for their home,” he adds. “Customers felt at ease and would spend some time getting to know our techs and about our business in this sheltered setting, and we have received many referrals for business after these interactions.”

The conversion was a lengthy process that took about seven months. In its past life, Lockzilla was a church bus. The chassis is a 1997 1-ton Ford E-350, and the powertrain a 7.3-liter diesel.

Courts already is envisioning the next build, aptly named “Key Kong,” in keeping with the science-fiction theme.  “It’s currently in the planning stages.  We hope to have as much fun with it as Lockzilla.”

Best Exterior

Colorful and graphic vinyl wraps seem to be the latest trend, applied equally to full-size vans and small Ford Escapes. Our judges were impressed by clear lettering, including the business name, contact information and services provided. Bonus points went to locksmiths who included QR codes that take customers directly to their website.

1. Pearman Locksmith

Our winner was Pearman Locksmith of Indianapolis, with a superhero theme that features a pear-shaped PEARman locksmith on his Ram Promaster City van, along with a QR code, easy-to-read contact information, some industry endorsements and a Bible verse.

Owner Donald Pearman says he wanted a logo that pulled his name into the spotlight, representing a locksmith as a hero who rescues folks when they’re locked out. Hopefully, his superhero character and business name will stay front and center in the minds of customers and prospective customers who see him out on the road. He uses the PEARman character on all his advertising.

“I get more comments on the Bible verse than the truck, which is what I was after,” Pearman says. “I want people to stop and think about how God has changed their lives.”

2. 305 Lockout

Miami-based locksmith 305 Lockout’s 2021 Mercedes Sprinter van was wrapped in vinyl and reflective material, with a custom design done by a graphic artist. It features a two-tone gold and yellow Key Hole, with the company name displayed in black lettering and reflective outlining that shines at night when light hits it. Just below the company name, the website and some social media icons are displayed in smaller black lettering, The design also showcases the company slogan “Faster than 911,” in gold and white lettering. Customers can scan the QR code to reach the website.

3. Revolt Locksmith

Revolt Locksmith’s Jimmy Constanzo, Fayetteville, Tennessee, describes his Ford Transit van’s exterior as “simple, to the point and informative.” In addition to the company name, logo and phone number, the van states highlights of “high security auto specialist” and “key and remote programming” and shows a variety of auto remotes and auto maker logos. The QR code is on the side and on the rear.

Honorable Mentions:

Iron Security, Amelia Court House, Virginia (2018 Mercedes Sprinter 2500). “We wanted a van that was set apart from the rest with flare but not over the top. Here is the result,” says James Biggs. Beyond the eye-catching vinyl wrap, the roof racks for ladder and equipment storage stood out atop this van.

Kevin Wilson Master Locksmith, Lilburn, Georgia (2015 Mercedes Sprinter 3500). Notable on this van is the large image of locksmith Kevin Wilson. The vinyl graphics also list a full range of services and an ALOA logo.

Bryan and Sons Locksmith, Denton, Texas (2017 Ram Promaster 2500). This van features a bold diagonal design that displays the company name, phone number and website. Instead of listing residential, commercial and automotive services, graphics show homes, storefronts, cars and keys. Brands sold are listed on the rear doors.

Thee Locksmiths, Lumberton, North Carolina (Ford Escape SUVs). This automotive locksmithing company takes a different approach by using small, maneuverable SUVs that have much better gas mileage than the large vehicles on the road. “Our vehicles may be small, but we get the job done,” says Deanna Brena.

Interior Storage

1. ReKey Xpress

Our overall winner also placed first in this category. It’s difficult for any other type of van on the road to compete, based simply on the available square footage.

2. Revolt Locksmith

This van was described as organized and productive, useful and open, with air conditioning (a must in the South) and a workbench – well-equipped with all that’s necessary to be efficient and productive. “Impressive to customers for sure!” Constanzo adds.

3. Bryan and Sons

This interior looks to be well-organized, with plenty of neatly and carefully labeled drawers, cabinets and shelves. There’s space on the desk (between mounted key machines) for a pinning kit, and an office chair is attached to the desk via a bungee cord to keep everything in place on the road.

Interior Workspace

Of course, this category and the Interior Storage category have some overlap. You can’t work efficiently without the right tools and equipment and the space to move around.

1. ReKey Xpress

Again, ReKey Xpress placed first with its extensive square footage.

2. Kevin Wilson Master Locksmith

This van has room for five key machines, bench vise, stamping block and a full-size pinning kit, plus space for two technicians to work simultaneously. Storage includes professionally installed lightweight aluminum bins, drawers and racks. There’s one rack just for power tools, a cabinet below the key machines, removable parts drawers, a five-shelf rack for inventory, three overhead bins, a storage bin that faces the back door and 15 sliding drawers.

3. Port Angeles Lockworks

Owner Sheldon Koehler built his own customer workbench for this 2000 Ford E-250 longbody van, because he couldn’t find a pre-built model that met his demands.  

Koehler uses toolbox drawers for common parts and tools and notes that items, such as lock cylinders and latches, fit nicely. Milwaukee Packout drawers hold often-used hand tools, spare drill bits and so on. Large drawers on the bottom hold Blue Punches, two per drawer. Pinning tools are stored conveniently in a drawer under the pinning mat. Lishi tools for residential and commercial locks hang on the wall above the pinning area. Key machines and common key blanks also are easy to access. Insulated panels help to keep the work area comfortable and reduce road noise.

Honorable Mentions:

Iron Security. It was all about balancing the right amount of storage with the necessity for bench workspace. James Biggs added some 2-by-4s to get his desk at the right height and covered it with a thick rubber mat. He set up a separate (not on his desk) pinning station that has cubbies to hold all his pinning tools.

Russell’s Security Solutions

This well-equipped 2018 Ford Transit 250 includes a LAB wedge pin kit, key-stamping plate and minigrinder in one workspace. Pick sets, letter and number stamps, key rings and specialty locksmith tools are stored in a drawer in front of the chair. The drawer next to the workstation contains rim and mortise cylinders and more specialty tools. Sortimo cabinets contain an HPC Codemax and a Ryan key machine.

Innovation

This might be our most interesting category. Just about everyone has workbenches and storage on the inside of their vans and signage on the outside. But few locksmiths have solar panels, a ham radio or flashing yellow lights, for example.

1. Port Angeles Lockworks

Koehler equipped his van with solar panels and stores the solar charge controller, batteries and the 2-kilowatt pure sine wave inverter in a cabinet. This van also has an RV transfer switch for using shore power. Koehler says that during the summer, he never has to plug in to charge the batteries.

Because Koehler also is a ham radio operator, he wanted to have a radio in his van, mounted behind his custom Recaro driver’s seat. He also installed a cell booster, necessary in rural Washington. Not shown in his images are the ham radio head unit and GPS on his dashboard.

2. ReKey Xpress

An indoor waiting area for customers says it all.

3. Kevin Wilson

This innovation is a roof-mounted yellow flashing light, which he uses for emergency double parking for calls that involve a child or animal locked in a hot car. Other innovative features include an electric retractable step, view-through graphics over windows, security wire on the inside of windows, seating for a three-person crew, wire mesh screen partitions to maximize airflow, a Wi-Fi printer and a writing desk between the front seats.

View all the entries in our online image gallery at www.locksmithledger.com/21283528.