Library Update: ANSI/BHMA Lock Function Reference Chart

We’ve just added a reference chart (direct link here) to the Library which contains function numbers, common names, and descriptions of the most popular ANSI/BHMA mortise, bored (cylindrical), interconnected, deadbolt, deadlatch, and deadlock functions. It’s laid out in a way that we think is streamlined for locksmiths who may have not fully committed these functions to memory.
If, for example, you wanted to decipher the function of a lock in hand OR you wanted to specify a function number based on the characteristics of the lock, you can quickly narrow it down by utilizing this sheet. This, we believe, is far more advantageous than the current method of reading multiple function descriptions via manufacturer’s literature.
The derived information should be compared to the manufacturer’s literature as final confirmation prior to ordering their specific lock.

Small Format Interchangeable Core Video Tutorials

Here are a few video tutorials related to the servicing and pinning small format interchangeable cores.
This first video allows you to create a pinning chart for small format interchangeable cores in literally seconds. Whether an A2, A3, or A4 system, you only need a piece of paper and a pencil or pen to get the job done. No software, websites, Excel spreadsheets, just basic math.

This next video is a pinning tutorial. In addition to basic pinning information I shared a few techniques and methods I use during the pinning process.

The final video covers tools commonly used to service and pin small format interchangeable cores. I give my opinion on the tools as well as demonstrate their usage.

This post will also be archived in the library.

By |2018-02-23T07:00:30+00:00February 23rd, 2018|All, Cores and Cylinders, Locks|0 Comments

Tyler's Take: The Impact of Customer Service

Quality customer service is one of the most important attributes a business, big or small, can possess. This is especially true in our industry. It can make or break jobs, accounts, and, in some cases, your entire business.
The impact of “bad” customer service is profound. According to Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved, negative experience. In the same book, Newell-Legner states that a typical business only hears from 4% of dissatisfied customers. A 2011 American Express Survey found that 3 in 5 Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that a bad customer service experience reaches more than twice as many ears as a good customer service experience.
To recap, if you or your company aren’t providing quality customer service then you’re likely not going to hear about it, it’s going to be an uphill battle to correct, your existing customers will more than likely be looking elsewhere, and people are going to hear about. That’s not a good situation to be in, especially if you’re new in town or operate in a smaller market.
But what if you provide excellent customer service? There are a large number of reasons customers choose to “come back” to a business. Categorically, excellent customer service encapsulates a large majority of those reasons. And when they do?
In an article for, Alex McEachern found, and cited, that repeat customers are profitable in 5 big ways:

  • A repeat customer is more likely to shop with you again and again.
  • A repeat customer is easier to sell to.
  • Repeat customers spend more on each purchase.
  • Repeat customers spend more at key times.
  • Repeat customers share your store/business more.

Who wouldn’t want that?
Corroborating this article, the same American Express Survey mentioned previously found that 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. According to Capgemini, this number is actually 8 in 10. Bain & Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%!
What if a part gets delayed or the wrong one is shipped and the job is a delayed? Not a big deal according to MarketingSherpa; they found that 82% of satisfied customers are either “likely” or “very likely” to keep shopping with a company even if something goes wrong. Taking excellent customer service a step further, a resolved complaint in the customer’s favor results in the customer doing business with you again 70% of the time, according to Lee Resources.
How do you know when you’re providing excellent customer service? The two biggest indicators I have found are:

  1. An overwhelming majority of your jobs will be from repeat customers and customers referred to you.
  2. Your customers will be proactive to let you know that they appreciate your service, your responsiveness, your assistance, etc.

If that sounds overly simplistic, you’re right, it is. It doesn’t have to be complicated though. If you are doing a good job, your customers will remain loyal and send their friends, family, and colleagues your way. It’s often said that the best compliment in business is a referral. That couldn’t be more true in my eyes.
Teaching and imparting excellent customer service information, techniques, and wisdom is beyond the scope of this article but let me share a few books on the subject that helped me:

  • Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet by Ron Kaufman
  • The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business by Richard R. Shapiro
By |2018-02-22T07:00:02+00:00February 22nd, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|1 Comment

Patents That Shaped American Locksmithing, Part 2: Frank Ellison Best's Interchangeable Core

The gallery was not found!
Patent Number: 1,561,771 (Google Patents)
Filing Date: March 18, 1922
Issue Date: November 17, 1925
Inventor(s): Frank E. Best


Frank Ellison Best was a high school custodian for a large high school in Washington state (incorrect, see update below). His key ring reportedly carried upwards of 100 keys, one for virtually each door. When a key was lost for one of these doors/locks, Frank was tasked with rekeying it. Frank was determined to create a better lock that allowed for a faster and more economical rekeying process. For 7 years, Frank tinkered with ideas. In 1922, he applied for patents for two of those ideas. The first (1,500,297), filed in February, secured a “figure 8” core into a cylinder housing by use of a screw.

The second (1,561,771), filed a month later in March, secured a similar “figure 8” core into a cylinder housing as well but rather than rely on a screw it used the core’s “extending shoulder”. This extending shoulder is what is commonly known as the “control lug” today. Furthermore, this extending shoulder could be retracted by use a special key, eventually known as a “control key”. This meant that a core could be removed and replaced in seconds with nothing more than a key. It’s not hard to imagine which core eventually caught on.
Frank would go on to form Frank E. Best, Inc., which became the patent holder for his core and other patents. Best would also create a separate company, Best Universal Lock Corporation, in 1925 to manufacturer and sell his new core and locks. In 1938, Best and his company would relocate to downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, where the company remains to this day.


In 1966, Frank Best passed away. Frank left behind quite a legacy, accumulating 58 patents for locks, keys, and lock related equipment throughout his life. Frank Best’s oldest son, Walter, became President of Best in 1966 and held that position until 1994. Best Lock Corporation’s mechanical lock hardware line was fully developed during Walter’s tenure. According to Best company literature, Walter saw sales grow from $4.5 million in 1966 to $104.6 million in 1994. Keying systems using Best’s “small format interchangeable core” became synonymous with many institutions such as schools, hospitals, colleges and universities, government offices, and even military installations.
Russell Best, Frank’s grandson, acquired Best Lock Corporation in May of 1994 from his father Walter. In November 1997 Best Lock Corporation became Best Access Systems. On November 25, 2002, Stanley Works purchased all of Russell Best’s holdings to become the new owner of the company. The company became Stanley Security Solutions although they continued doing business as Best Access Systems. In 2010 Stanley Works and Black & Decker would merge to become Stanley Black & Decker. On February 22, 2017, Best was acquired, along with other Stanley Black & Decker mechanical security businesses phi Precision and GMT, by dormakaba. The deal was worth $725 million. Throughout it all, Best Access Systems remains one of the premiere lock manufacturers in business today.

Update (2/20/2018)

Man oh man did we get some details wrong. Not long after this was posted, we received a copy of Frank Best’s obituary (posted below) from Zach J. Olson through a mutual friend. A few corrections therefore must be made using this new information:

  • Frank Best was actually a teacher, not a janitor, at the high school.
  • Frank Best’s genius wasn’t just limited to locks.

The story of Frank being a janitor is one that is repeated throughout this industry; in fact, it’s the first sentence on the current BEST Access “About BEST” web page. I hope this was in error on their part because honestly, the true story is far more interesting and far better than what I, and many others, have been told about the man. We apologize for any confusion we may have created. Thank you for the update Zach!

Photo credit: Zach J. Olson

By |2018-02-19T07:00:35+00:00February 19th, 2018|All, Cores and Cylinders, History, Locks|0 Comments

Tyler's Take: Smart Locks and Privacy

It all started with a review…

Fortunately for us, this should be very easy to look into. It, according to the reviewer, was plain as day in the app’s privacy policy. Here are some relevant portions of said policy:

Well, that appears pretty cut and dry to me. But on the off chance that the original reviewer and I were misinterpreting or reading into this too literally, I decided to reach out to Schlage via Twitter for their response:

That was the extent of the conversation; I got no response after that. Let’s ignore the fact that they’ve blatantly and clearly said what information they will use. Let’s play Devil’s advocate and assume that, as it relates to “third party service providers”, they mean only the vendors, companies, whatever related to the development, implementation, and/or maintenance of the app. Let’s assume that the information is only used for the purposes of the app itself. Great… why couldn’t they just say that? I can only assume that’s what their Twitter account was suggesting but then again it’s so general that I could be woefully wrong. If Schlage would like to send me clarification I’ll be more than happy to update this post; that’s only fair to them.
When you speak in generalities, much like their privacy policy is written, you can cause a lot of unease amongst users. And yes, I’m not a lawyer and I realize that careful wording is a must when crafting these but I cannot understand why they wouldn’t be able to specifically state that the only third party service providers are the ones involved with the app and not companies purchasing your data. Is that too much to ask? August Home, makers of the August Smart Lock, doesn’t seem to have a problem with stating just that.

Good job, August.
But, there’s always a work-around, I suppose, albeit at the expense of your own time, effort, and circumstances (thanks to @MattEyraud):

Whether you’re a home owner or a locksmith selling smart locks, it’s in your best interest to not take products at face value and do your research. Read the privacy policies, the terms of service and agreements, etc. Make sure you understand what you or your customers are agreeing to.
For more information, here are a few links to privacy policies from the most popular smart lock manufacturers:

By |2018-02-15T07:00:14+00:00February 15th, 2018|All, Tyler's Take, Wireless Electronic Locks|0 Comments

Tools Update: US and ANSI/BHMA Finish Code Cross-Reference Chart

We created a Hardware Finish Codes page in the Tools section. The page includes a primer on the history and function of both US and ANSI/BHMA finish codes. It also includes a cross reference chart for US and ANSI/BHMA finish codes (direct link here) . This chart can be used to cross-reference popular US and ANSI/BHMA finish codes. ANSI/BHMA finish codes are sorted by nearest US equivalent and common names. This chart includes all ANSI/BHMA base materials related to the finishes covered.

By |2018-02-10T07:00:12+00:00February 10th, 2018|All, Tools Update|0 Comments

Tyler's Take: Lead Tracking

There are many metrics a business owner can use to assist in the development of his or her business. Business owners regularly track things like sales revenue, profit margins, gross margins, and maybe even retention rates and the cost of customer acquisition. One business metric that is highly undervalued in locksmithing is lead tracking. Lead tracking is nothing more than determining the source of your leads; it’s finding out how customer’s found out about you. There are many methods and tools available to locksmiths, or any business owner for that matter, to help track leads but I don’t think any are as simple or cheap as ending each call, email, or interaction with “How did you hear about us?”
Now that may seem obvious and overly ambiguous but let me explain. If you actively chart the source of service requests, you can plan and track other things, such as promotional campaigns, which can help grow your business. Let’s say you start tracking leads today by asking customers how they heard about your company and 3 or 4 months down the road you find out that 65% of your businesses’ leads come from repeat customers, another 15% from referrals, 5% is from Google, 4% is from Kudzu, 3% from seeing your truck(s) out on the road, etc. Whatever the source of your calls, you’ll begin to see patterns emerge and learn areas you’re doing well in, such as repeat or referral service requests, and areas that maybe you could use improvement on. This initial research can identify what avenues of lead generation you may need to focus on.
I don’t know the ideal makeup of leads. I don’t know what percentage need to be repeat, referral, Google, etc. I think that’s largely subjective to your area, your services, and far more criteria than I am capable of thinking of. The point is, by tracking leads you can at least see what areas can be improved on. If after your initial batch of lead tracking you decide to improve the amount of leads from Google, for example, you at least have a baseline for where your calls are currently at. After your determine a budget and timeline that will work on a promotional campaign for Google, you can begin to see if it’s working. If leads from Google increase, you’ll know because you’re tracking. From there you can determine, either by a percentage or whole number, how much those additional leads cost your business by comparing what you spent to obtain them. This information can then be used with the aforementioned cost of customer acquisition to truly see if it’s worth your investment. If leads from Google decrease, well, you’ll at least know so that you can either discontinue the campaign or re-evaluate it.
The previous example only skims the surface of what you can do with this information. There are far more ideas and metrics that can pull from it but that’s not the point of this post. Lead tracking is something you should be doing if you already aren’t. Keep a notepad next to your office phone or in the truck. Mark your leads and throw them into Excel at the end of the day or week. For virtually no added time or expense on your part, tracking leads can drastically help you grow your business.

By |2018-02-08T07:00:17+00:00February 8th, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|0 Comments

Patents That Shaped American Locksmithing, Part 1: Medeco Original

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Patent Number: 3,499,302 (Google Patents)
Filing Date: March 1, 1967
Issue Date: March 10, 1970
Inventor(s): Roy C. Spain, Roy N. Oliver, Elvis C. Flora, Paul A. Powell


Linus Yale Jr. formed the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company with Henry R. Towne in 1868. Yale flourished and by 1953 the company decided it was necessary to decentralize the manufacturing facilities of the Yale Lock and Hardware division. New plants were built in Gallatin, Tennessee, Lenoir City, Tennessee, Monroe, North Carolina, and Salem, Virginia. One employee of the Salem plant, which focused on automotive and industrial locks, was Roy C. Spain. By all accounts, Spain was a gifted inventor. Spain had many patents issued between the 1940s and 1960s. These patents included:

During his time at Yale, Spain partnered with Paul A. Powell to form a tool and die company known as the Mechanical Development Company. Originally started in Spain’s basement, the company would eventually relocate to a standalone building not far from the Yale plant in Salem. Sometime during this period, Elvis C. Flora and Roy N. Oliver joined the Mechanical Development Company. According to a Medeco company presentation, Flora and Oliver, upon learning that Spain had created a prototype of key that used angular cuts, urged Spain to fully develop the his lock concept. Spain would eventually leave Yale and devote himself full time to his company and idea. Not long after this, the Mechanical Development Company produced what would become the “Medeco Original”, or Medeco’s original high security platform.
Prototypes of the design were manufactured and then sent to various manufacturers throughout the U.S., presumably to gauge interest as well as find out if any manufacturer was interested in mass production of them. No manufacturers were, however, believing that it couldn’t be manufactured in an economical and consistent manner. Since the group had already created a number of prototypes and proven to themselves that it could be, they decided to begin selling them under a new business with a new name: Medeco, taking the first two letters from the original companies name.


Medeco became wildly successful marketing and selling their “original” product and would eventually become the largest manufacturer of high security locks in the United States. At some point in the early 1970’s, Spain, then President of Medeco, issued the infamous $10,000 challenge to anyone who could pick open their cylinder. NYC detective Bob McDermott successfully picked one cylinder but since he could not do it twice, which the challenge supposedly stipulated, he was not able to cash in. McDermott was hired as a sales rep for Medeco shortly thereafter.
In 1974, Oliver became the president of Medeco, which soon opened a 58,000 square foot facility in Salem. This facility is a few thousand feet from the banks of the Roanoke River. Roanoke is an Algonquian word that, according to English explorer John Lawson and most in academia, translates to… money. Medeco’s success continued and they soon became the preferred choice of many U.S. government facilities, including embassies abroad. In 1984, Medeco was sold to Hillenbrand Industries Inc. In 1998, Hillenbrand Industries sold Medeco to ASSA ABLOY. Today, Medeco still operates successfully as an ASSA ABLOY group company.
Medeco’s innovation didn’t end with their original design. In 1988, they were granted a patent (4,732,022) for the original design’s successor: Biaxial. The successor to the Biaxial, the Medeco3 or M3, was granted a patent in 2005 (6,945,082). Other patented platforms included KeyMark (Re. 35,518 E) and KeyMark/Medeco X4 (8,186,194 B2).
And as for the Mechanical Development Company? Their existence didn’t end with the creation of Medeco. Powell’s family now owns the company and they’re still in business in Salem, not far from Medeco’s current headquarters and the original Yale plant, less than a thousand feet from the Roanoke.
Special thanks to Billy B. Edwards for his insight on some items discussed in this article.

By |2018-02-04T07:00:38+00:00February 4th, 2018|All, High Security, History, Locks|0 Comments
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