Legends of the Lock Industry 2024

July 1, 2024
Read the full stories from all of our 2024 winners.

Huge thanks to our readers for all the outstanding nominations for our inaugural Gale Johnson Legends of the Lock Industry Awards, in memory of our late editor-in-chief. We are honored to share all of these inspirational stories in our July magazine, online and on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Our winners are divided into three categories: Industry Associations, Distributors/Manufacturers and Locksmiths.  They are listed here alphabetically. Click on the name to read their individual stories or scroll on down to read all the stories.


Industry Associations

Lewis Alessandrini, Yankee Security Convention

William Lynk, ALOA



Louis Bunnick, Allentown Architectural Hardware

Jerry Burhans, ALCEA 

Christopher Clark, Allegion (retired)

Thomas Rescinti Demont, ASSA ABLOY Technical Services 

Nick Gartner, LaGard 

Robert Goff, KoreLock, Inc.  

Lori Greene, Allegion 

Tom Harris, ASSA ABLOY’s Access & Egress Hardware Group 

J. Clayton Miller, Q Security, NL Lock 

Josh Peabody, ASSA ABLOY Electromechanical Solutions 

Julie Pilgrim, KDL Hardware 

Clyde Roberson, Medeco 

Joy Skowron, Detex 

Ned R. Urschel, Sargent and Greenleaf 

Ronald Weaver, Accredited Lock Supply

Erin Wilson, dormakaba 



Eugene Anderson, Anderson Lock

Darrell Babb, Babb Security Systems 

Steve Cothron, Cothron’s Security Professionals 

Stephen Craigen, Locksmith TXK 

Sebastian di Palma, Target Security Systems

Anna Fouts, Anna’s Lock and Key 

Larry Friedrichs, Assured Security 

Michael Hyde, National Auto Lock Service

Herman Manzanares III, Los Alamos Lock and Key

Jake Matteson, Locks and Unlocks

Barry "Buzz" McMenimon, FlyLock Security Solutions

Uriah Ortiz, Guardian Safe and Lock

Al Pante, Phil & Son Locksmiths

Jon Payne Sr.,  LockHelp911.com and Locksmith Lessons LLC

Steve Sacco, Local Locksmith

Douglas I Schneider, Bay Cities Lock & Safe, Inc. 

Brian Sweeney, Sandia Safe and Lock

Thomas Thill, Transponder City

Joe Wainwright, Wainwright's Inc. 

Steve Young, Autolock Solutions

Industry Associations

Lewis Alessandrini, Yankee Security Convention, Pasek Corporation

Lewis Alessandrini’s dedication to the locksmith industry is evident to anyone involved in the Yankee Security Convention, an organization Alessandrini volunteered with for more than 35 years. Pasek is known for their expertise in commercial electronic and mechanical security, locking hardware, and key systems. helped establish and maintain the Yankee Security Convention as the premier regional security professional event in the United States. He and his wife Betty spend countless hours each year as the backbone of the organization. His devotion to the locksmith industry was evident in the passion and devotion he brought to this organization. 

Alessandrini was the owner and manager of Pasek Corporation, the largest security business in the greater Boston area, until his retirement in 2019, at which time the company was sold to DH Pace. Pasek was known for expertise in commercial electronic and mechanical security, locking hardware, and key systems. As the owner, he mentored many new security professionals coming into the business. He is also a long-time adviser and supporter of the North Bennet Street School’s locksmith training program. He was always willing to share his knowledge and expertise with others in the trade.

A founding member of the Massachusetts Locksmith Association, Alessandrini had a wide impact on locksmithing in New England. He treated everyone with respect -- employees, salespersons, competitors and strangers. He was always a soft-spoken gentleman, but his word carried a lot of impact. 


William Lynk, ALOA

In addition to his professional career, Lynk serves as ALOA’s Director of Education, teaching classes, designing curriculum and mentoring locksmiths.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I present to you my esteemed boss, a true luminary in the field of locksmithing. With a wealth of experience and a collection of accolades that speak volumes about his expertise, he stands out as one of the finest professionals in the industry. His profound knowledge and skills in locksmithing surpass those of anyone I have ever encountered, making him an invaluable resource and mentor to all who work alongside him,” stated his nomination from his ALOA colleagues.

Lynk has been owner of Interchangeable Core Lock Systems since 1985 and is a well-known author of several books on interchangeable cores and master keying, most recently Positional Master Keying Unveiled.


Louis Bunnick, Allentown Architectural Hardware

Louis Bunnick’s decades-long experience and expertise in the lock industry make him a perfect candidate for Locksmith Ledger’s 2024 Gale Johnson Legends of the Lock Industry Award. An undergraduate degree (Lehigh University) and a graduate degree (Case Western Reserve University) in Metallurgy, along with an MBA in Marketing (Baldwin Wallace University), gave Lou a rock-solid foundation for his years in the industry, a career that started as a Metallurgist at US Steel and a Senior Product Manager at The Ridge Tool Company.

In 2000, Lou joined the Baldwin Hardware Company as the Director of Marketing. For his seven years at Baldwin, Lou was responsible for new product development for the lock hardware product lines, developing locks for the famous Baldwin brand. He led cross-functional teams that worked on project specifications, including design, cost, and profitability. Additionally, he worked closely with Baldwin’s showroom partners and acted as liaison with the company’s OEM partners to find business growth opportunities.

In May of 2007, Lou founded the Allentown Architectural Hardware in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Developing its reputation for being a leading architectural hardware showroom, Lou’s company became a direct source for more than 30 makers of door, cabinet, window, and specialty hardware. Then, in 2013, at the urging of several hardware manufacturers who saw the need for a higher level of quality and expertise in the greater Philadelphia area, Lou moved the company to the Philadelphia Main Line at Paoli.

Today, the Allentown Architectural Hardware Company is the premier architectural hardware showroom in the greater Philadelphia region. With a staff that has over 35 years of experience in the industry, Lou has built a company with a goal of providing its customers with the exact right product that will fit their “function, style, and finish wishes – hardware that will stand the test of time and bring years of enjoyment.” As Lou says, “We are Philadelphia’s hardware experts!”

Jerry Burhans, ALCEA 

Jerry Burhans and Gale Johnson were both from Chicago and while Jerry was VP of Sales at Eastern Company (CCL), Gale would stop by from time to time for friendly visits and talk locks. Gale lived a few minutes away from the Eastern Company office in Wheeling, Illinois. Gale worked for ABLOY years ago and enjoyed reminiscing with Jerry about his trip to Scandinavia. I know Jerry would be very honored to receive this nomination as Gale was a major influence in Jerry's career.

In addition to serving as managing director of ALCEA (formerly ASSA ABLOY Critical Infrastructure), Burhans is a former SHDA Committee Member, SIA Utilities Committee member, ITSA Committee Member and ASIS Chicago Chair of Education, Membership.

Christopher Clark, Allegion (retired)

Clark began his career in the industry in 1975 as an apprentice with a locksmith. While working at another shop in 1984, he saw a want ad for a locksmith at UCLA. He got the job right before the 1984 Olympics and eventually became a superintendent with responsibility for the Lockshop, Fire Extinguisher and Tool Crib departments.

In 1999 he left UCLA to work for Ingersoll-Rand (now Allegion) as an End User sales consultant, focusing on key systems and electronic access control. Clark was also a regular contributor to Locksmith Ledger.

Thomas Rescini Demont, ASSA ABLOY Technical Services

Tom Rescinti Demont is a 50-year veteran of this industry. starting his career in his father's shop. He served ten years in the Navy as a Locksmith Physical Security Specialist.  Demont worked as Director of Sales/Marketing for ASSA High Security Locks for over 11 years. In addition, he developed, wrote manuals, taught many certified courses and published numerous articles in trade publications. He wrote "How to Run a Successful Service Company" - donating 1,000 copies to the ALOA Scholarship Fund.

Demont holds almost every industry designation in existence: AHC, CAL, CFDI, CFL, CMIL, CML, CMST, IFDI, ICML, LSFDI, ARL. He has served as ALOA president and on its board of directors.

Demont gives 150% back  to this industry and has mentored/taught valuable lessons and skills, generously sharing both his knowledge and time. He is also the founder of The Antique Key Machine Museum.

In memorium: AUGUST 7, 1936 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2023

Nick Gartner, LaGard

Nick Gartner’s vision for safe locks kept elevating from simplifying conventional dial locks to revolutionizing the safe lock industry by designing  and providing various iterations of UL listed electronic safe locks. He provided the impetus for other manufacturers to offer countless electronic safe locks with new, and interesting, capabilities.

Robert Goff, KoreLock

Robert Goff is an accomplished leader in the lock industry, serving as the VP of Product and Co-founder of KoreLock. With extensive experience spanning 16 years, Rob has demonstrated steadfast expertise and commitment to revolutionizing access control. His focus on designing user-friendly, cost-effective, and accessible smart lock solutions has propelled industry evolution. He was a driving force behind the successful delivery of KoreLock's product line, ensuring high customer satisfaction and a competitive edge.

Rob's most remarkable accomplishment is his pioneering work in energy-efficient IoT technology. His patented technology platform that controls a lock's Wi-Fi radio on and off state has brought advanced intelligence and power savings to the market, successfully extending smart lock battery life while functioning on existing Wi-Fi networks. Rob's forward-thinking approach led to the creation of four patents, offering new options for Wi-Fi direct locking devices and introducing innovative technology that expanded the possibilities for smart lock features. Through his contributions, Rob has advanced security measures and significantly reduced the energy consumption of smart locks, showcasing his dedication to sustainable solutions.

KoreLock's IoT technology patent encompasses a method for operating Wi-Fi -connected access control with a system of dynamic wake-up schedules for a wireless transceiver. These schedules control the frequency and what prompts the wireless transceiver to 'sleep' or 'wake up' to transmit or receive information. This intelligence saves significant energy when the WIFI is not in use.

Because Wi-Fi is an energy hog that consumes battery life, the ability to cycle the status on and off for access control only when needed delivers significant cost savings. Going directly to Wi-Fi eliminates the need for additional equipment, specifically gateways.

 Today, KoreLock's IoT-connected technology is installed in over 75,000 devices worldwide, in homes, hotels, vacation rentals, offices, or public buildings. Our IoT technology offers advanced security features, such as remote access control, activity monitoring, and real-time alerts, making it an ideal solution for commercial offices, hospitality, public buildings, and residential locks.

Furthermore, Rob's ability to integrate his patented technology into a turnkey, white-label smart lock technology platform has revolutionized the lock industry. His comprehensive solution is not only easily implementable by any lock manufacturer or brand but also effectively streamlines the market readiness process. The integration of Rob Goff's IoT technology platform has significantly reduced time to market, product development costs, and risks for lock manufacturers. By leveraging Goff’s platform, manufacturers can focus on their core competencies while relying on a proven and reliable smart lock solution, leading to more efficient product launches that benefit both the industry and consumers.

Rob's passion for improving access control systems, commitment to energy efficiency, and ability to simplify the lock manufacturing process set him apart as a true legend in the industry.

Rob Goff brings a wealth of experience, having introduced KoreLock to the market in 2022 and spending over 14 years in product development and marketing at RemoteLock. As part of that team, he defined, developed, and launched multiple successful software applications and smart lock products, creating unique, user-friendly solutions that simplify access control. Rob transformed traditionally complex aspects of access control into cost-effective, accessible SaaS and hardware for scores of access control partners in residential and commercial applications.

Rob Goff’s CV and experience includes: KoreLock Inc., Co-Founder and VP Product, – 2022 to Present RemoteLock, VP of IoT Product, VP and Director of Product Management, Director of Marketing, 2008 – 2022 Author, Intelligent Lock Utility Patents, U.S. Patent No. 10,366,556 B1 (2019), U.S. Patent No. 10,699,500 B2 (2020), U.S. Patent No. 11,482,063 B2 (2022), U.S. Patent No. 18/244,122 (Pending 2024) Member, Security Industry Association, Electronic Security Association, ASIS International, and the Door Hardware Institute – Present (via KoreLock, Inc.)

Lori Greene, Allegion

With over 35 years in the door hardware industry, Lori Greene, DAHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI, and FDHI, has developed a deep understanding of the code requirements relevant to doors and hardware. She is an engaged participant in various industry organizations, including BHMA (Codes & Government Affairs Committee and Marketing Committee chair), DHI, and PASS. Throughout her dedicated career, Lori’s unwavering commitment has earned her wide respect and trust within the door hardware industry.

Lori achieved a significant milestone in her career by establishing iDigHardware.com in 2009. This website serves as a valuable resource for industry professionals, offering access to information related to door and hardware codes. It also provides a platform for technical inquiries and knowledge-sharing within the door and hardware industry. Over time, iDigHardware.com has gained popularity among locksmiths, hardware distributors, facilities managers, and other industry stakeholders.

Tom Harris, ASSA ABLOY

Tom Harris spent his entire 43-year career working in the security industry. Starting with assembling products in the factory and quickly moving to sales and new product development, Tom began his career with well-known door hardware brands like Yale and Arrow, before eventually earning leadership roles under the ASSA ABLOY umbrella, including general manager and head of sales. In April 2024, Tom retired from his position as V.P. of Business Development, Marketing & Product Management for ASSA ABLOY’s Access & Egress Hardware Group.

During his time with the company, Tom witnessed several critical industry transformations, from the passing of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations in the 80s to more recent demands for school security, privacy within a variety of applications, touchless door operation, behavioral health safety, high security mechanical and electronic locks with keyless and mobile access solutions, and growing demand for more decorative choices in terms of finish design, and aesthetics.

Tom joined ASSA ABLOY in 1981 as a member of the company’s sales representative training program after which he served as a U.S. sales representative and then as regional sales manager for the Far East – residing in Hong Kong from 1985-1990. His career also took him to the United Kingdom, where he and his family lived for two years. During his tenure, Tom conducted business in 43 countries and had a front-row seat to many of the world’s most significant historical events, including being one of the earliest visitors to China, living on a project site in the jungle of Brunei, selling mechanical hotel locksets in India, visiting nuclear facilities in Korea, doing door take-offs in Guam, working on a high-security military base in Italy, and being in the Eastern Block soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Tom asserts that what companies like ASSA ABLOY do is absolutely critical for society to function. “We ensure safety and security by delivering products and services that are largely in the background – that people take for granted because they can!” He is proud of his security industry roots.

Tom has seen the industry move from knob locks to lever locks, from cross bar exit devices to push bars, and from mortise locks fashioned from cast iron to those constructed of steel today. But he is quick to say that his favorite product sold over the years are status indicators. “With the growing need for privacy, there’s no end to the products that benefit from having a status indicator – so folks can quickly see if a space is occupied or vacant and if a door is locked or unlocked.

Tom is seen as a mentor to many and recognizes that people tend to remain in the industry because it “just gets in their blood.” He encourages those who are early in their careers to speak up and let their ambitions be known.

• ASSA ABLOY Vice President Business Development, Marketing & Product Management- Access & Egress Hardware Group (Monroe, NC & New Haven, CT 2016-2024)

• General Manager, Arrow Lock (an ASSA ABLOY brand), (Roanoke, VA 2008 – 2016)

• ASSA ABLOY Director of Product Management & Customer Service (Monroe, NC 1999 – 2008)

 • Group Product Manager - ASSA ABLOY Architectural Hardware Group (Monroe, NC 1997-1999)

 • Sales Manager, Western USA District/Yale Security Group (Monroe NC, 1993-1997) [Note: Yale was purchased by ASSA ABLOY in 2000.]

 • Export Sales Manager - Yale Security Group (Monroe, NC 1991-1993)

• Director of International Marketing - Yale Security Group (Birmingham, England, 1990-91). Directed regional managers who oversaw a global network of sales agencies marketing products manufactured in England, China, Italy, and USA throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

 • Director, Regional Manager - Yale Hong Kong (Hong Kong, 1985-90) • Trainee and Export Sales - Yale Security Group (Monroe, NC 1981- 1985). Travelled extensively in the US and overseas. Helped develop business in Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Korea and Brunei.

• Manufacturing Worker at Norton Door Controls (Monroe, NC 1978-1980). Worked on production lines for door closer testing and assembly - a great learning experience and foray into the business

J. Clayton Miller, Q Security, NL Lock

James Clayton “Clay” Miller, born in 1945, shares his father Harry’s adventurous and industrious spirit. True to his roots, Clay’s life has been marked by an incredible work ethic, visionary mindset, and ability to “make it happen.” Holding over 50 patents, Clay has made countless contributions to the lock and security industry.

A self-proclaimed wild child, Miller left high school his junior year and began working under his father at Sargent & Greenleaf. Initially, he worked in maintenance repairing machines before moving on to various departments, including the engineering department. He jokes, “They moved me around a lot because I was a pain the ass. I don’t think they knew where to put me.”

Eventually, Miller began working with Jim Taylor, a close colleague of Harry’s. Jim was married to Clay’s aunt Alice, and Miller became his protégé or ‑‑ as Miller recalls it -- Jim’s gopher. Miller  began in domestic sales, and as his skill set grew, he moved into international sales. When the decision was made to move the plant from Rochester, New York, to Nicholasville, Kentucky, Taylor moved south to oversee the building of the plant. Miller remained in New York running the sales department and organizing the move.

The Miller family, moved to Kentucky in 1974. The plant move proved to be tumultuous for Sargent & Greenleaf and their employees, and Taylor left the company soon after. Harry drafted Clay to fill Jim’s shoes and promoted him to General Manager. When Harry stepped down and moved into a Chairman of the Board role, Clay became the President of Sargent & Greenleaf at the young age of 31.

Within a few years of becoming president, it became apparent that the best course of action for Clay, his brother Benson, and their father was to sell Sargent & Greenleaf. After the sale, Clay continued to work there, but soon dreaded waking up and going to work under the new ownership. He knew he had to make a change.

Seeing a potential opportunity in Lockmasters, Clay approached Harry with an offer to purchase it. A deal was struck, and in September 1981, Clay resigned from Sargent & Greenleaf and moved to Florida, where Lockmasters was located. At age 36, he felt he had reached the pinnacle of his career. His joy was short-lived, as he soon realized that running a small business with six employees and $219,000 in annual sales was a significant departure from managing a $14 million multinational company. Nevertheless, Clay regards it as one of the best decisions in his life because of the opportunity for personal growth it provided him.

Eventually, Clay moved Lockmasters from Florida to Kentucky where he and Wes Day continued growing the company. In keeping with family tradition, Clay also brought his son, Mark, into the business.

In the intervening years, Clay met and married locksmith April Truitt. Together, they founded the Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) and the non-profit Primate Rescue Center - which is still going strong, caring for nearly 50 monkeys and apes rescued from biomedical research, entertainment and the pet trade.

Throughout his tenure with Lockmasters, Clay developed multiple divisions, including Education, Wholesale Tools & Equipment, and Research & Development. In 2005, Mark purchased the Tool and Equipment division, with Clay retaining the Education and R & D divisions. Several years later, after selling the other Lockmasters divisions to Mark, Clay established Lockmasters Technologies, Inc., to focus specifically on government training and lock development. Meanwhile, just up the road, Mark continued to grow Lockmasters, moving into high security doors and builder’s hardware.

Sadly, and as most in the industry are aware, Mark passed away in September of 2020.

In 2023, Clay embarked on a new journey. He learned that his good friend and fellow inventor Nick Gartner was battling cancer. Nick had founded NL Lock two decades earlier and knew he needed to find it a good home. The two began discussions in early 2023 regarding the future of the company. In late August, they inked a deal to transfer the company assets to QSecurity Industries. Secure in the knowledge that his brainchild had a promising future with an industry veteran who would take his innovations forward, Nick breathed his last in early September of 2023.

Clay continues to contribute to the industry. Like his predecessors, he will leave a legacy to be admired – one characterized by intense drive, ingenuity, spirit and generosity.

Josh Peabody, ASSA ABLOY

As the Vice President of New Product Development at ASSA ABLOY Electromechanical Solutions (EMS) in Phoenix, Arizona, Josh has been a driving force behind product development for four industry-leading brands, including Hanchett Entry Systems (HES), Securitron, Alarm Controls, and Adams Rite.

Josh started his career at HES after graduate school in 2002 as one of two engineers. With a background in aerospace engineering and an interest in production, he embraced the opportunity to solve customer needs by improving the quality and integrity of the HES electric strike. He has been an instrumental influence on the evolution of electric strikes, from their inception to today.

Progressing through a variety of roles – from chief engineer to manager, and directorate positions to his current vice presidency – Josh has woven his expertise and knowledge through the very fabric of the company with each person he mentors. Josh has demonstrated that determination steers one’s professional destiny by embracing opportunities and responsibilities.

He fostered the Phoenix office's engineering division from a modest duo to an impressive group of 26 under his guidance. Evident from their contributions, the team echoes Josh's commitment to evolution and innovation, having matured into industry pacesetters who continually rise to challenges and drive advancements.

Contributing to Josh's successful career are his early mentors, such as Lee Hanchett, founder of HES and one of the inventive minds behind the electric strike. Under Lee's influence, Josh developed tenacity and a spirit of innovation, components that are foundational to his success. He also worked under Michael Webb, the former President of HES. Michael further instilled in him a passion for constant improvements and market responsiveness – a legacy he perpetuates through his team.

Encouraging curiosity within his team, Josh emphasizes the significance of experiential learning and client engagement as the key to superior product design. This philosophy extends beyond the office, into the real world where problems are confronted and solved. By advocating for close observation, continuous questioning, and an inquisitive mindset, Josh steers his team toward delivering the best products on the market. He holds a steadfast belief that first-of-a-kind engineering solutions occur not inside but outside the office walls – on everyday doors and frames. Josh's ingenuity is substantiated by his involvement in over 20 patents, though his true success lies in mentoring and inspiring a team whose unique products have repeatedly achieved patented recognition.

In a career defined by steady advancement, patented solutions, and inspiring leadership, Josh symbolizes the very essence of progress and the spirit of continuous improvement. His nomination for this distinguished award is a tribute not just to his accomplishments but to the culture of growth and exploration he has nurtured here at EMS.

Josh is active in the Builders Hardware Manufacturing Association (BHMA) organization. The organization strives to improve product standards and define industry excellence through the knowledge of subject matter experts like Josh. His initiatives focus on elevating product standards and advocating for industry excellence. He has played a pivotal role in evolving the specifications and defining the benchmarks for top-tier products, including electric strikes. Together with a collective of contemporary subject matter experts, Josh has updated the electric strike specifications to provide a unified industry standard that has widespread acceptance and application. Josh also serves on steering committees for Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards, where he contributes his knowledge to the writing and decision-making processes regarding industry-wide standards updates. He also recently led the subcommittee responsible for the electric strike standards, reinforcing the importance of routine evaluation and continuous improvement. Josh's dynamic, iterative process in standards creation ensures the industry remains nimble and responsive.

By actively redefining excellence, Josh has raised the benchmark, compelling companies to excel in quality, and benefiting the entire industry with clearer, elevated standards.

Julie Pilgrim, KDL Hardware

From Julie Pilgrim: Farewell and thanks for the memories. It’s been a blast!”

September 30, 2024, will mark the conclusion of my incredible 50-year career at KDL Hardware Supply. It has been an amazing journey from my start in the inventory and receiving department, through customer service and into a management role of this fine company. As early as the days in which I worked as the Will Call CSR, it was apparent how special our locksmith customers are. From the hard working, independent small business owners to the diligent locksmiths for large industrial entities. Will Rogers said ”I never met a man I didn’t  like.” I could say the same of locksmiths (with 99% honesty!!).   It has been a rewarding experience to have worked with so many of them through the years.

There was much fun along the way. 40 KDL regional trade shows, decades of hosting NWLA meetings and locksmith training classes, KDL employee picnics and some very memorable holiday parties. I thank our local factory representatives who have been so helpful and accommodating to KDL. We couldn’t have produced a show or classes without their input.  

KDL’s partnership in the Security Distributors Inc (SDI) corporation afforded me the opportunity to annually attend the SHDA distributor conferences  and the ALOA locksmith conventions. Attendance at these events allowed me to meet and make friends with many outstanding industry individuals  while acquiring skills to enhance KDL’s role in distribution. 

At the close of 50 years, in many ways, it feels like the departure of an older generation making way for the fresh start of a younger group with new technology to offer and different paths to explore. Our customers are in capable hands with Marc Snyder, the current KDL President,  and  Emily Schei, Office Manager, who has been with KDL since 2002, and their  staff who are experienced in sales, service and  locksmith technology.   

On behalf of a team of unique individuals with whom I formed a truly unbreakable bond:   Peggy K Steck, Senior KDL CSR from 1973 through her premature departure in 2019;   Al Chraca, Senior Outside Sales Rep, 1980 through his retirement in 2019;  Cheryl Aasness, Accounting Manager, 1988 through her retirement 2017; and  Ron Snyder, President, 1973 through his recent passing.


Clyde Roberson, Medeco

Clyde Roberson was nominated for 30-plus years of serving the locksmiths and striving to advance the locksmithing industry. Roberson is an active member of ALOA and numerous other industry associations. He was also a valued friend, colleague and confidant of our late Editor-in-Chief Gale Johnson.

Joy Skowron, Detex

Joy Skowron has been in the industry for over 40 years She started out on the automotive side working for Briggs & Stratton, followed by STRATTEC, Bianchi/Keyline, Ilco and now works for Detex. She has been involved in producing books and literature that was centered around the locksmith and what knows what locksmiths need to do their jobs. She has taught classes and is very knowledgeable in her field and knows how explain it in a learnable manner.

“I am beyond honored!  To be associated with an award in Gale’s name is unbelievable to me.  He was invaluable to the industry for decades and an incredible man,” Skowron said.


Ned R. Urschel, Sargent & Greenleaf

Ned R. Urschel has dedicated over three decades of his career to the locksmith industry, making profound contributions that have shaped the security sector. His work at Sargent and Greenleaf, beginning April 28, 1986, as the North American Sales Manager and concluding with his retirement as Vice President and Managing Director, Global Sales, on March 31, 2020, demonstrates an unwavering commitment and a visionary approach to advancing security technology worldwide.

Job Commitment: Urschel's 34-year tenure at Sargent and Greenleaf is marked by relentless dedication, during which he transformed the company's product line and market approach. His leadership in transitioning from traditional mechanical locks to innovative electronic security solutions revolutionized how security is perceived and implemented in the modern world.

Leadership: Displaying exceptional leadership, Urschel led numerous teams across various departments, guiding strategy, sales, and product development. Under his direction, Sargent and Greenleaf achieved critical milestones, including the successful conversion of North American railroads to S&G's Environmental Padlock and the introduction of seventeen new electronic security products.

Industry Involvement: Urschel's active participation in 30 ALOA and SAVTA shows, along with numerous other industry events, underscores his commitment to industry involvement. His contribution to the global standardization of lock design and testing further establishes his standing as a respected industry leader.

Achievements: Among Urschel’s numerous achievements, his role in the development and launch of Sargent and Greenleaf's electronic locks stands out, particularly the Model 6120, which set a new benchmark for security technology worldwide.

Contributions and Innovations: Urschel's vision led to the creation of eight new mechanical and four new key-operated safe locks, as well as the high-security retail door lock, Arm-A-Dor. Notably, his involvement in the CEN working group for locks as the only non-European member demonstrates his contribution to global security standards.

“Ned R. Urschel's distinguished career, marked by significant achievements, leadership, and contributions to the locksmith industry, makes him an exceptional candidate for the Gale Johnson Legends of the Lock Industry Awards. His pioneering work not only enhanced Sargent and Greenleaf's product offerings but also contributed significantly to advancing global security standards. We are proud to nominate an individual whose career has been so impactful and whose legacy will inspire future generations in the industry,” stated S&G President Brian Leary in his nomination.



In memorium: june 9, 1948 – SEPTEMBER 2, 2022

Ronald Weaver,  Accredited Lock Supply

In 1974, shortly after completing his service in the United States Army, Ronald W. Weaver embarked on a remarkable journey, founding what would become a locksmith legacy—Accredited Lock Supply. At its inception, the company was a modest operation with Ron, his father, and grandfather as its sole employees. Little did they know, this small venture would evolve into the nation's largest single-source wholesale distributor, serving clients not only across the United States but also internationally.

Ron was more than just a business leader; he was a man of kindness, genuineness, and unwavering principles. Family, friends, and community were paramount to him, and he invested his time and energy into cherishing these relationships. His impact on the lock and hardware industry is nothing short of legendary, and his absence leaves a void that will be deeply felt by many.

Accredited Lock Supply remains rooted in the family values instilled during its humble beginnings. Ron, alongside his wife Pam, formed the cornerstone of the team, which has now grown to over 50 members. Today, their sons, Charlie and William, carry forward the legacy, upholding their father's commitment and dedication to both the company and the industry.

Ron's charitable spirit extended beyond business. He dedicated his life to helping those in need, providing unwavering support to those facing difficult times. A legend in the industry, Ron earned respect from partners and competitors alike. His honesty, straightforwardness, and willingness to offer advice made him a mentor to many. Ron's joy lay in witnessing the success of those around him, and he was always ready to stand up for others when needed. His selflessness defined his every action, seeking nothing in return except the satisfaction of seeing others flourish.

As a hero in every sense, Ron's service to the nation during the Vietnam War showcased his honor, courage, and bravery as a Staff Sergeant in the 199th Infantry Brigade, the "Redcatchers." Despite the lifelong effects of war, Ron's spirit remained unbroken. His footsteps and every breath serve as a testament to the sacrifices he made, not only for family and friends but for the entire nation. Ron's influence extended far and wide, leaving an indelible mark on the world. His mantra, "When there's a will, there's a way," exemplifies his belief in determination and effort. His will, evident throughout his life, stands as an enduring reminder of his graceful determination for all fortunate enough to cross paths with him.

Though our time with him may feel too short, Ron will never be forgotten. His legacy lives on through the lives he touched, big and small, a living testament to a man whose impact was truly unavoidable through every interaction.


Erin Wilson, dormakaba

Erin Wilson has shared her vast expertise with dormakaba customers and colleagues since 2014 and our industry at large for over 20 years. She is the face of influencer education, consulting, and design for dormakaba North America.

In 2022, Erin passed the EHC Credential exam making her an AOC (Architectural Openings Consultant). She is one of 15 AOCs in the world, the second woman to earn this credential, and the fourth person to achieve all six credentials offered by the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI). Her official credentials (AOC, CFDAI, CSI, CCPR, DHT, DHC) tell only part of her story, however. Erin’s unique skill set is her ability to translate and articulate customer facility needs into a design need for access solutions. She understands the functions of a facility and its openings on a fundamental level so that they can be put into a format or specification that will bring building tenants a safe, secure, healthy, and productive environment.

Erin has realigned dormakaba’s training programs for spec writers and technical customers to assure that they remain aligned with industry best practices and set the stage for future advancement. She has also been instrumental in helping to design and develop dormakaba’s spec processes. In addition, she actively recruits emerging talent.

Erin describes herself as an educator, hardware geek, code geek, and influencer. She is a regular speaker at leading industry events. In 2022, she started “The FACTS that Matter,” a dormakaba YouTube series discussing hot topics in the security industry. The diverse program content has included discussions with experts about multihousing trends, impacts of the great resignation on workforce skills, digital native education, and women in the security industry workforce. Each segment is produced in dormakaba’s in house Connections Studio and shared widely on social media. Response to date has been positive and continues to grow.

In an industry ripe with “experts,” Erin Wilson sets the standard on what “expert” means. She has carved out her own unique path toward excellence and our industry is better for it. Erin is an innovative leader who exemplifies the best of the best high performers.

In 2022, Erin passed the EHC Credential exam making her an AOC (Architectural Openings Consultant). She is one of 15 AOCs in the world, the second woman to earn this credential, and the fourth person to achieve all six credentials offered by the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI).


  • AOC – Architectural Openings Consultant since 2022
  • EHC – Electrified Hardware Consultant since 2022
  • DHT – Door Hardware Technician since 2019
  • DHC – Door Hardware Consultant since 2019
  • CFDAI – Certified Fire Door Assembly Inspector since 2018
  • CCPR – Certified Construction Product Representative since 2016
  • CDT – Certified Document Technician since 2015
  • AHC - Certified since November 2001. CDC - Certified since October 2002.
  • DHI Instructor 2003 – 2008; 2017 to Present

Memberships: DHI – Door Security and Safety Professionals (formerly Door & Hardware Institute CSI – Construction Specification Institute


In memorium: sept. 4, 1940 – MAY 30, 2023

Eugene R. Anderson, Anderson Lock

Eugene R. Anderson, A.H.C., the founder of Anderson Lock Company, in Des Plaines, IL, transformed his one-man locksmith shop into Chicago's premier commercial door and locksmith services company. 

Gene’s interest in keys and locks began in his youth, in his parents’ Ace Hardware store. As a teenager, Gene got a job with Central Key & Lock in downtown Chicago. He learned on the job about cabinet locks, large master key systems, and specialty mortise locks that he’d never encountered in the family hardware store. He next worked for Johnson’s Lock Shop in Evanston.

 In 1960, at age 20, Gene founded Anderson Lock. The visionary entrepreneur built his business by becoming a distributor for leading lock manufacturers, establishing loyal relationships with customers, and by believing in and empowering his lock techs and office staff. During the first two decades, Gene focused on the rekey/ replace/ retrofit market for commercial, industrial and institutional security hardware. He invested in service trucks, uniforms, industry training, and yellow page advertising.

Gene joined Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) and Door and Hardware Institute (DHI). He earned his Architectural Hardware Certificate (A.H.C.) in 1982. An innovative, ever-optimistic business leader, he published the first of six door hardware catalogs in the 1980s. Each custom catalog served as a source for hardware and a resource for technical information.

Gene, an early adopter of technology, launched his company website in 1998. Devastating Des Plaines River floods in 1986 and again in 1987 threatened the company’s existence, and it would not have survived without the heroic efforts and teamwork of its employees.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines went into effect. Anderson Lock responded to customers’ queries with a unique ADA catalog. Increased demand for accessible hardware led to more growth, and a new location, away from the river. As the company grew, it gained considerable recognition from vendors and industry leaders.

The April 1997 issue of Locksmith Ledger, in an article authored by Gale Johnson, highlighted the company’s new 15,000 square foot sales and service facility. ALOA’s Keynotes magazine (April 2000) complimented Gene’s company for beating a 45 day deadline to install 400 electric strikes.

Today, the thriving lock and commercial door sales and service company has two locations, 30 red service vehicles, and over 100 employees. Gene’s daughter, Cortney Wascher, assumed leadership of Anderson Lock in 2007, yet in his retirement, Gene led extensive renovations to transform an immense manufacturing facility in Elk Grove, IL, into the third home for Anderson Lock’s rapidly expanding Door Division.

Gene, diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) in 2019, welcomed walkers via video messages to ALS Walks held in his honor. Not only have three ALS Walks raised over $100,000 for research, they also showcase how many people he inspired. Gene lost his life in 2023. Teresa, his wife of 53 years, daughters Cortney (Devin) and Britt (Brian), and three grandchildren survive him.


Darrell Babb, Babb Security Systems

Darrell Babb started out as a locksmith helper working alongside his brother Lorne at Babb Security Systems back in 1979. Since then he has gone on not only to be a master locksmith but a hardware specialist. He’s AAADM certified, a certified Stanley technician and widely regarded as the most respected safe and vault technician in all of Newfoundland and Labrador. Darrell has mentored numerous technicians over the years and now manages a team of 15 techs in the family business.

Darrell is deserving of this award because he has dedicated his life to not only his family and friends but to this trade as well. Darrell is a humble and honest man who generously gives of his time and skills whenever needed. He’s a true gentleman who brings honor and integrity to his trade.

Steve Cothron, Cothron’s Security Professionals

Cothron's Security Professionals -- the oldest locksmith company in Austin, Texas -- just celebrated its 75th anniversary. In 1948, Olen Cothron bought out a magazine shop on 4th and Congress, he lived in the back of the shop with his wife, and all these years later, the brand is still going strong: Olen's son, Steve, is the president. Steve's daughter, Angela, is the accounting manager. Angela’s husband, Daniel, is the operations manager. There are also several other sets of parents/kids, husbands/wives, and siblings that work for the company, as well as employees who have been around for decades, all combining to offer over 500 years of lock experience.

Beyond traditional locksmithing, Cothron’s provides services like electronic security, door frames/glass, safe installations/repairs, and access control to the Greater Austin area. Available 24/7, technicians (making up the largest mobile fleet of licensed professional locksmiths in Central Texas​), can be found working jobs anywhere from Waco to San Antonio.

The team still makes time to have fun and care for one another, though. There’s a company softball league and a yearly holiday party. A couple of the employees play in a band together. Outside of work, it is not unusual to find several coworkers hanging out together. 
And Steve is at the heart of it all. When he inherited the business from his father, he also adopted the fundamental philosophy of “never leave a customer unhappy.”

After all this time, Cothron’s is still family owned and operated and treats customers like they are an extension of that. This has helped Cothron's become a well-known and respected company with a solid reputation of high-quality work and consistently satisfied customers. 
Cothron’s would not be what it is without its employees, and Steve handpicked each and every one of them. He takes talented and motivated individuals, gives them all the tools they need to grow, and checks in on them – both professionally and personally – regularly. The care is obvious, as Cothron’s (specifically Steve Cothron) builds people up, giving them whatever they need to succeed…on the job and beyond. 

Cothron's Security Professionals was founded in 1948, by Olen Cothron, and his son, Steve, is now the company’s president. For years, Steve has been a member of multiple industry organizations, including ALOA Security Professionals Association, Safe & Vault Technicians Association, and Texas Locksmiths Association. Since 2018 (when the category was first introduced), Cothron's has been named the best locksmith in town in The Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin poll.


Stephen Craigen, LocksmithTXK

Steve Craigen has been repairing, replacing and installing locks throughout the Texarkana area for over 30 years. He spends countless hours doing research or going above and beyond for each customer to ensure they get the best product and price, as well as the best service. He will find a solution to all safe, lock and key needs for residential, vehicle or commercial needs.

Steve makes sure his technicians have the most knowledge available and the best tools for each job. His attention to detail makes a difference, not only in the field, but in everyday life and as a business owner.

Craigen has 30+ years in Locksmith and Security Industry, is an ALOA and SAVTA member , was the STRATTEC Locksmith of the Month for March 2022 and is certified/licensed in access control and locksmithing.

“He is someone I admire deeply and strive to have the work ethic and passion he demonstrates. Steve is selfless and giving and shows so much compassion for every situation or person. I can't think of anyone else more deserving in the industry. His passion for this industry to far beyond anything I've ever experienced. I'm the manager here at LocksmithTXK and honored to stand beside him in this business but I'm even more honored to call him my bonus dad,” Lisa Cook wrote in her nomination.

Sebastian Di Palma, Target Security Systems

Di Palma has 39 years of experience in the locksmith industry, including 26 years with Columbia University. At Columbia, he created and maintained the university standards for doors and door hardware as well as all campus master key systems. Di Palma left his position of Head Locksmith in control of 3 million square feet of campus to become a locksmithing instructor. He is currently a Lock & Hardware Sales Specialist at Target Security Systems, New York City.

Di Palma has achieved the following:

  • National School of Locksmithing & Alarms
  • Certified Installer LCN Door Closers
  • ALOA Certificate of Training Simplex Manipulation
  • ALOA Certificate of Training Life Safety Codes & ADA
  • ALOA Certificate of Training Hardware Scheduling & Site Survey
  • Certificate of Completion Institutional Lock Shop Management
  • Certificate of Completion LCN Automatic Operators
  • Certificate of Completion Fire Door Inspection Ingersoll Rand
  • Certificate of Completion Mechanical & Electrified Exit Devices Allegion


Anna Fouts, Anna’s Lock and Key

Anna’s Lock and Key, the mobile locksmithing service operated by Anna Fouts since April 2005, provides general locksmith service, master key systems, rekeying, residential hardware, door locks, installing locks, emergency home, auto and commercial lockouts, serving Arlington, Marysville and Stanwood, Washington.

Anna Fouts was nominated by her colleague, Michael Harold, owner of Harold Locksmithing. “I had just graduated from Foley Belsaw in 2012 and started reaching out to other locksmiths that might help me better learn the trade. Anna has been my mentor and trusted advisor in the locksmith trade every since. She has taught me everything the Foley Belsaw course didn't and more.  It's been an honor to know her and I am extremely thankful for all the knowledge her and her mentor Wayne have passed down to me. She is extremely deserving of this nomination,” Harold said.  

Thanking Harold for the nomination, Fouts added “Locksmithing can be a very lonely job sometimes, and locksmiths aren't, as a whole, very helpful to one another. I feel that when we help one another and refer customers to other legitimate locksmiths in our area when we are too busy to help someone, that's one less person who gets taken advantage of by a scammer.”

Larry Friedrichs, Assured Security

Larry started as a locksmith in 1978 with Armor Security. He went on to become the service manager and then general manager of Bloomington Security Solutions for over 25 years. He is currently an account manager working with integrators providing electrified hardware services. Over time Bloomington Security Solutions purchased Assured Security and Minneapolis Lock & and Key and is now operating under the name Assured Security in Bloomington, Minnesota.  Larry was an advisor in merging the three companies.

Friedrichs was past president of the Minnesota chapter of ALOA, Medeco's first DBK council, advisory member for the locksmith program at Pine City Technical College and past board member of MNESTA (Minnesota Electronic Security Association). Outside of work Larry was an Edian volunteer fire fighter and past president of the Edina Lions Club. He is currently active in aquatic invasive species detection for the Gull Chain of Lakes Association and the University of Minnesota.

Michael Hyde, National Auto Lock Service

Automotive locksmith Michael Hyde created and updated the AutoSmart books, a well-known locksmith reference guide,  for 30 years. He also created the MyAutoSmart App, available for the last 14 years. Hyde published  the Transponder Books for 1998, 2000, 2004, 2008 & 2013.

Additional accomplishments in the locksmith industry include:

  • ·       Created the original TCODE & MVP User manuals
  • ·       Sold the first NGS machines to Locksmiths
  • ·       Created the original NGS user manuals
  • ·       Sold the first DART machines to Locksmiths
  • ·       Created the original DART user manuals
  • ·       Created the original EZ-Flasher manuals
  • ·       Wrote many automotive locksmith articles for a national locksmith publication
  • ·       Assisted with the development of the TCODE & MVP in the U.S. for 8 years
  • ·       Founded & Managed the USA office of Advanced Diagnostics
  • ·       Assisted with the development of Acura, Honda, Lexus & Toyota ECU Immobilizer re-programming

Herman Manzanares III, Los Alamos Lock and Key

Los Alamos Lock and Key is a third-generation family business. Herman Manzanares III has been with the company for 31 years and now owns the business. Herman has been recognized for his work with the local elementary schools, senior center, and fire department. Herman is a contributing writer to Locksmith Ledger magazine and loves helping follow professionals and customers with their needs. Herman helped to develop the Zia hot air balloon house key for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta gift shop.

Manzanares s an ALOA registered locksmith and Locksmith Ledger contributing writer who has 31 years of experience in the security industry. Herman is a Strattec certified automotive locksmith. Herman is the recipient of numerous community asset awards for his commitment to the local community. Additionally, Herman holds certificates from ALOA, Schlage Primus, and American Security Products.

Jake Matteson, Locks and Unlocks

Jake Matteson, the owner of Locks and Unlocks, exemplifies the essence of dedication and excellence in the locksmithing industry. Jake's unwavering commitment to his craft and comamunity distinguishes him as a deserving nominee for Locksmith Ledger’s 2024 Gale Johnson Legends of the Lock Industry Awards. 

Jake's journey in locksmithing is guided by his deeply rooted values of compassion, integrity, and service. A devout Christian, Jake approaches every aspect of his business with a profound sense of purpose, viewing his work as an opportunity to positively impact the lives of others. His genuine care for people transcends mere transactions, as he seeks to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct in all his endeavors.

Through Locks and Unlocks, Jake embodies the motto, We are not in the business of locksmithing but the business of helping people. We just happen to know about locks, keys, and safes, striving to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those he serves. Moreover, Jake's commitment extends beyond the confines of his business as he endeavors to educate the community about the breadth of services locksmiths can provide. Recognizing that locksmithing is often an overlooked trade, Jake actively engages in outreach efforts to raise awareness about the myriad solutions locksmiths offer. Through Locks and Unlocks, he seeks to demystify common misconceptions, such as the belief that one must visit a dealership for a new car key or a hardware store for a replacement lock. Instead, Jake emphasizes the convenience and cost-effectiveness of locksmith services, such as key rekeying, which not only enhances security but also eliminates the need for multiple keys.

Furthermore, Jake advocates for collaboration between locksmiths and other businesses, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships that leverage each other's expertise. By working together, locksmiths can enhance the overall customer experience and provide comprehensive solutions that address a wide range of security needs. Through his tireless efforts to educate and inform, Jake empowers individuals and businesses to make informed decisions about their security needs, ensuring that they have access to the full spectrum of locksmithing services available. His dedication to promoting industry awareness and collaboration underscores his commitment to advancing the locksmithing profession and serving the community with integrity and excellence.

Matteson has spent more than 24 years in the security industry. His illustrious career trajectory showcases his unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation in locksmithing services. Jake's journey in the security industry commenced over two decades ago, where he diligently apprenticed under seasoned locksmiths, meticulously honing his skills and mastering the craft.

Jake actively engages with industry associations, including the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) and the Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA), highlighting his fervent dedication to staying abreast of industry trends and best practices. Furthermore, Jake's proactive involvement extends to attending trade shows, seminars, and educational courses, where he continually expands his locksmithing knowledge base, embraces technological advancements, and networks with fellow professionals to share insights and expertise.

Throughout his illustrious career, Jake has achieved numerous milestones, including the expansion of Locks and Unlocks' service areas to encompass Sun Prairie, Stoughton, Watertown, and Madison.


Barry "Buzz" McMenimon, FlyLock Security Solutions

Barry "Buzz" McMenimon boasts a distinguished four-decade tenure in the Locksmith/Security Industry, leaving an indelible mark on its landscape. His father, William McMenimon, laid the foundation for the family legacy by establishing the Flying Locksmiths in 1946, operating initially from the confines of a humble Jeep.

Buzz's journey commenced alongside his father and three brothers, where he adeptly navigated roles spanning locksmithing, dispatching, salesmanship, and ultimately stewardship as a sole proprietor. Leveraging innovative marketing strategies, including eye-catching signage atop service vans, Buzz propelled the company into a phase of exponential growth through a franchising model. Collaborating with his sons, Barry and Brett, Buzz steered The Flying Locksmiths to expand its footprint nationwide, now proudly boasting over ninety franchised locations with continued expansion on the horizon.

In his current capacity as Franchisor, Buzz is steadfast in his commitment to upholding the locksmith profession's reputation as a bastion of professionalism. He insists on uniformed technicians, fair pricing, and impeccable craftsmanship, counteracting the proliferation of unscrupulous operators within the industry. Buzz remains dedicated to elevating the trade's stature in the eyes of consumers, advocating for rigorous training standards and fostering apprenticeships nationwide to nurture aspiring locksmiths

Buzz's credentials include certification as a Certified Master Locksmith (CML) from ALOA and membership in SAVTA. He remains a staunch proponent of ongoing education and knowledge-sharing within the locksmithing community, ensuring the proficiency of over 200 locksmiths under his purview across the country.

The accolades bestowed upon Buzz and The Flying Locksmiths are numerous, including their inclusion in Entrepreneur's Top 500 Franchises for seven consecutive years, recognition with the Top New Franchise Award, and accolades such as the Family Business Award for Marketing Excellence and the Franchise Times Top 400 Award. Noteworthy distinctions such as the Best of Boston South Award and their recent feature in Security Magazine as a Top 10 Access Control Provider further underscore their industry leadership and innovation.


Uriah Ortiz, Guardian Safe and Lock

I started this company to innovate and create a dynamic business that would help bring the industry standards, branding, marketing, and professionalism to the next level. We have about 100 blog articles on our website and three YouTube channels: Guardian Safe & Lock, UDROpreneur, and Guardian Approved. We have plans to expand and open multiple shops across Texas over the next few years and are setting an example of what a real modern locksmith security shop should look like.

When I started in this industry, I noticed the huge potential to become the household name in the industry. We will do this by being better than the competition in all areas: professionalism, branding, marketing, content production, and creating a stellar company operationally. We have very creative series on our Youtube channels and a wide variety of content that reaches all over the world. We love what we do and we are constantly innovating and improving and wont be satisfied until we are the household name in the industry.

I started working for Gordon Safe & Lock on Jan. 7, 2007, and worked there till Aug. 8, 2010. I started Guardian Safe & Lock LLC on Aug. 9, 2010 I started as a one-man show and today I have 13 employees, health insurance, dental, and vision for all employees. We offer the following services: CCTV, Access Control, Residential & Commercial Locksmithing, Automotive Locksmithing, and Safes.

Ortiz is a member of SAVTA, ALOA, TLA and on the board of directors for the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce.


Al Pante, Phil & Son Locksmiths

Al Pante started Phil & Son Locksmiths in 1972. As a sole proprietor, he built the company to a very successful operation over 50 years becoming the leading locksmith in Indiana. He is a CPL member in ALOA and SAVTA. His professional standards were high and his knowledge for mastering the locksmithing craft was next level. He has designed some of the biggest, most intricate Medeco master key systems in the country. Al was a member of GCLA, notably vice president and president for four years. He enjoyed teaching classes and training locksmiths and developed a great reputation for it all. After retiring in 2020, the second generation is carrying on his legacy, bringing professional locksmith services to our communities,

Jon Payne Sr., LockHelp911.com and Locksmith Lessons LLC

Jon Payne Sr. is a seasoned veteran in the lock and security industry, boasting over five decades of dedicated service. His journey began in 1975 in the Washington, DC, area, where he laid the foundation for a prosperous locksmith shop, which he later sold in 1989.

During his tenure, Jon's influence extended beyond his shop's walls. He held elected positions in the Maryland Locksmith Association and served on the board of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), fostering valuable connections and enduring friendships within the industry. As an experienced instructor at various ALOA conventions, Jon shared his expertise on computer technology and electronic access control systems, leaving an indelible mark on locksmith education.

Jon's career took him to Atlanta in 1992, where he played a pivotal role in the formation of TESA/Entry Systems, eventually evolving into Onity, Inc., a global leader in electronic hotel locks. With contributions to five patents and leadership in research and development, Jon significantly shaped Onity's trajectory within the industry. His tenure also afforded him extensive international experience, including pivotal roles in product sourcing in China, enriching his understanding of diverse cultures and manufacturing techniques. During that time Onity joined the UTC family of companies.

Following his tenure at Onity & UTC, Jon's passion for education led him to Lockmasters Security Institute in Lexington, Kentucky. There, he contributed to the redevelopment of the basic locksmithing class and the electronic access control curricula. 

In 2009, Jon and his wife embarked on a new endeavor, not just a business venture, but a commitment to their values. They transformed their property in Elberton, Georgia, into a thriving organic farm, showcasing their commitment to sustainability and rare heritage breeds. This garnered recognition, particularly in American Guinea Hog conservation, and reflected their deep-rooted principles.

Noting a gap in locksmith services in his area, Jon founded a new locksmith company in 2012, providing essential retail and mobile locksmith services to an underserved area. Always one to give back, Jon initiated a unique "pay it forward" initiative, handing over his business to an experienced locksmith at no cost, ensuring continued service to the community.

Even in his semi-retirement, Jon remains committed to sharing his expertise. He does this through consulting, technical support, mentoring, and online classes. His ventures, including LockHelp911.com and Locksmith Lessons LLC, reflect his unwavering dedication to advancing locksmith education and support.

Additionally, Jon's patent-pending Lockset Blocks offers professional-grade innovative lock display mounts and other specialty items for lock and safe technicians. His consulting services provide forensic examination and expert witness expertise, particularly in electronic hotel lock systems.

With certifications as a Certified Master Locksmith and Certified ALOA Instructor, Jon's contributions to the locksmithing community continue to leave an enduring legacy, exemplifying excellence, dedication, and a commitment to knowledge-sharing.


Steve Sacco, Local Locksmith

My name is Steve Sacco. My wife Sharon and I own Local Locksmith in Queen Creek Arizona. With over 230 Google 5 Star reviews and 20 years of serving local customers, Local Locksmith is a go- to security company for many of our clients.

I personally, have been in the locksmithing industry for over 20 years. Prior to becoming a locksmith, I was in the Information Technology industry as a technician, engineer, programmer, business owner, instructor and public school teacher. A combination of IT experience and mechanical aptitude, gives me unique insights to the electronic and physical aspects of the locksmith industry.

I am an ALOA ACE certified instructor and have taught classes for: the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), the Professional Associated Locksmiths of Arizona, Just Cars, and the Texas Locksmith Association.

Additionally, I am a member of the Original Lishi Tools marketing team. I have helped with tool development and am a Factory Authorized Certified Trainer. I am also the Original Lishi Tools webmaster and social media administrator.

Lastly, I am a contributing author for Keynotes magazine and have also written for the now defunct National Locksmith magazines. I have also contributed to many locksmith association newsletters.


Douglas I Schneider, Bay Cities Lock & Safe, Inc.

Doug Schneider has successfully run a locksmith business for 44 years, has trained many employees to a high standard of locksmithing. His customers trust him to always give them the best options for their application.

Doug goes above and beyond to take excellent care of his customers. He ALWAYS takes calls from other locksmiths and is ALWAYS willing to help them with a variety of locksmith issues. Even when he is on a date with his wife! He sets a wonderful example for the industry.

Bay Cities Lock & Safe, Inc (BCLS) was started in 1980 after Schneider had worked in three other commercial locksmith companies learning the trade.  While expanding his knowledge and experience in all things locks and master keying, he learned to specialize in how to set up master key systems. He chose to specialize in commercial locksmithing (though his company provides the full range of locksmithing services) to focus on giving exceptional quality in service within this specialized field. 

Brian Sweeney, Sandia Safe and Lock

Brian Sweeney CRL is the president of Sandia Safe and Lock in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has served as the president of the Associated Locksmiths of New Mexico for many years.

“I had the pleasure of working for Brian for two years. He truly has a passion for this industry. I have never seen anything like that. He was instrumental to expanding Best's footprint in this area. He collects Best logo padlocks as well as many other types. So many other things outside of Best, I could not mention them all. He was a strong presence in our small local association. I cannot say enough good things about Brian,” stated Chris R Gonzales with the  Albuquerque Public Schools in his nomination.

Thomas Thill, Transponder City

Automotive locksmith Thomas Thill has a long history of working with Gale Johnson on many projects over the years and passing along automotive knowledge every month. Both based in the Chicago area, Gale and Tom worked together on a number of detailed, how-to projects.

Thill credits Johnson with helping foster “The passion of locksmithing that we both shared I now share that feeling with Phil from framon manufacturing We both talk about him still. Thanks Gale for your life experiences.”

Thill is a Locksmith Ledger contributor and his latest project involves push keys, which enable locksmiths to decode cylinders and cut keys for automotive locks without taking apart the lock cylinder. A push key is a marked key blank that has a tiny notch cut into the tip at various depths depending on the keyway. When inserted into a cylinder that has wafer tumblers, the notch makes contact with a wafer or not depending on the wafer’s depth.

Thill has used push keys for decades and has made and sold the tools to locksmiths on an individual basis. Now, through a relationship with Framon Manufacturing, Thill’s taking his method for decoding automotive wafer locks to the masses.


Joe Wainwright, Wainwright's Inc.

Wainwrights Inc., is a full-service, family-owned locksmith company established in 1947 in Tuscon, Arizona. Joe Wainwright has been in the locksmithing trade and business since either 1971 or 1973, along with his father, Dick (now retired), and his brother, Tim.

“I consider Joe a mentor and a walking encyclopedia of locksmithing,” said Jim Boudreau of Desert Diamond Casinos in his nomination. “As I entered the locksmithing trade in 2000, I became acquainted with Joe Wainwright & Wainwright's Inc via multiple referrals by other lock shops in the area when I was searching for a specific lock solution. Joe was the only one who provided a viable solution for me. As I became more acquainted with Joe, he took the time to educate me on how different locks work and how to install them, teaching me tips & tricks of the trade.”

Steve Young, Autolock Solutions

From Tech-Train tools and "how-to" opening videos in the 1990s, to the growth and direction of Locksmaster's automotive division, to the Ledger articles spread over all these years, to his passion of helping locksmiths grown in their field, Gale Johnson would be proud to have Steve Young receive this award with his blessings.

Steve was the owner and CEO of Tech Train car-opening tools and training videos, then later sold his business to Lockmasters. In recent years, he has owned and operated Autolock Solutions, an automotive locksmithing company based in Pensacola, Florida.  He is the author of automotive data books used by automotive locksmiths to perform most any automotive repair or lock replacement and a frequent Locksmith Ledger contributor.

In his nomination, fellow locksmith Donald Milton describes him as a “stand-alone fountain of history, innovative changes, and current state of the art in automotive locksmithing and a good friend to locksmiths around the world.”