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ALOA President Bill M. on ALOA Convention

The weekly review of posts of the week and comment of the week starts with a bottle of Topo Chico. Things will be more interesting as Bill, President of ALOA, gave us time to answer your questions about the convention.


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"I was celebrating my birthday today when the mail came bringing LOCKBOSS stuff. PJ and the staff at Clk are the best made my day!!! Thank You" - Kenneth J.

Kenneth, I'm happy that you liked everything. And thank you for sending in the picture.

 #LockBoss Mug from CLK Supplies

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"Once again, “THANK YOU SO MUCH"!" - OdinsLock



Kenneth, very cool. As a matter of fact, I think, I believe you just placed that order, actually. I just wanted to say thank you. I tell you what, you're going to love the machines. And I'm glad that our videos played a small part in your getting back into it. I have to say it's impressive going from 95. Right when vats keys, we're doing their thing. Coming into the market getting out of locksmithing. And then here we are almost, what is that over two decades later? That is impressive. And I tell you what, we want to be here for you along with the entire lock boss community as you start offering automotive services. That's pretty cool.


PJ:  All right. So here we go, guys. So I'm really excited about this. We get to have Bill, who's the president of ALOA, with us, and I'm really looking forward to this conversation. So let me go ahead and bring in Bill. Bill, thank you so much for taking the time to come on today with us.

Bill:  Thank you for having me.

PJ:  So you know, I want to, you know, probably my favorite part about this is I don't know the answers to these questions. And so I'm excited to learn along with everybody else. So now, of course, I introduced you as the president of ALOA, which you've been for about a year now. Right?

Bill:  Yep.

Q1: How did you actually get into locksmithing?

PJ:  So what I'm really curious about though is how did you actually get into locksmithing?

Bill:  Interesting story. I collect old keys. And then, back in 75, my wife kept pushing me to learn something about what you're collecting. And one day in the mail here comes a correspondence course from the Locksmithing Institute. That's where it came from; said you're going to learn something about what you're doing. And it got out of hand.

PJ:  Okay.

Bill:  I think it's interesting though. When I first took it, I figured, 'Okay, this is a correspondence course is not going to teach me all that much.' And I've got interesting and talking over the years, people that I know of that are movers and shakers in the industry, they got started the same way with the same correspondence course. Leonard Singer did a good job on teaching that thing.

Q2: What type of keys were you interested in collecting back then?

PJ:  Yeah, sounds like it. So that kind of start your journey. So I'm curious like what type of keys were you interested in collecting back then?

Bill:  Usually the bit and barrel keys.

PJ:  Okay. And so then you started doing that, you took that correspondence course, and then, next thing you know, bad went to worse and you're a full fledge locksmith at that point?

Bill:  Well, I started in '76, opened the shop '75, took the course '76, open a shop in Moore, Oklahoma. And it was part time then. And we moved up here in 1981, my wife graduated, the University of Oklahoma, got her PhD. And I told her I could work wherever she went. And Bowling Green, Ohio offered the best job with opportunity for advancement for, so we moved here, right in the middle of when all the automotive places were laying off. So there weren't any other jobs around you could find. So I'll just try see if I can make it full time. And it's been there ever since.

PJ:  Wow. Very cool. So that's doing some math here that's getting close to 50 years or so?

Bill:  Getting right there.

PJ:  Is that right? Wow. Well, very impressive and congratulations on that longevity in business. I mean, I tell you what, you've had to see a massive change in locksmithing over that time.

Bill:  Oh, yeah. When I got started, the automotive was about 30 keys on the board. And that would be it. Now if you have a four by eight board, you can fill up about two or three of those things with just the automotive keys.

PJ:  Right?

Bill:  A big difference.

PJ:  It really is. And one of the harder parts is all of the different random kind of imported locks that come out today and just like random new little products that aren't really great matches to any existing key. That's always fun nowadays.

Bill:  Oh, yeah. Walmart padlocks; that they import.

PJ:  Yes.

Bill:  Those things are trying to discourage people buying them. They still want cheap. So they want to buy those cheap padlocks and put on there. And then they want to come in have a half a dozen keys made. And try to tell them that I'm sorry. Nobody can get to blank for those. I don't care who you are.

PJ:  Yeah, absolutely. So well. That's great. Well, thank you for sharing your story a little bit. I do appreciate. It's kind of fun to learn.

Bill:  Well, I got help with the Oklahoma Master Locksmith Association '76. I join them and I got pushed in 78. And going to ALOA by Jerry and Leela McNichols. They pushed me to join the ALOA. I join that and three or four conventions there in the early 70s, late 70s. And I kind of laid off a while building the business up and several years ago coming back from ALOA convention. Sitting on next to Bobby Dewey, who was Northeast director at that time, on a plane and he says, 'You should really get involved in ALOA.' I can blame Bobby for getting me started on this career. But it's gotten to the point now with two employees, I've got enough that I can take time off and actually do it now. One-man shop would be really difficult to do. It can be done, but it is difficult if you actually need to spend the time on it.

Q3: What is that like to be the President of the Associated Locksmiths of America?

PJ:  Absolutely. So now you're President of ALOA. And I have to kind of ask, you know, I mean, what is that like to be the President of the Associated Locksmiths of America?

Bill:  It's, it is fun and challenging at the same time. You spend a lot of travel; going a lot. You'd never get reimbursed for all you spend for it. And we know like any organization, I don't care whether it's locksmithing or Masonic Lodge, or I'm building Bob with anything like that, no matter what you do, you put your own money into it. You're never get out what you put into it, but you get out the fellowship and the fun you put into it. It's something that you enjoy, it's worth doing.

PJ:  And is that something as being the president of ALOA? And by the way, I'm actually seeing the comments here, we have some people, Dillon, how's it going? Who is up in Canada actually, locksmith from Canada and he says, 'What ALOA?' Well, it actually stands for the - Actually, Bill, I'll let you go ahead on that.

Bill:  Okay. ALOA is the Associated Locksmiths of America. And it was started back in Pennsylvania, New York area back a lot of years ago by a lot of the old time locksmith. They got together and decided they needed a voice for the industry back then. So they started the Associated Locksmiths of America. It is morphed in the last four or five years to the security professionals incorporated, below a security professionals incorporated. Some people like the name, some didn't. It just gets out but everybody's still refers to it as ALOA.

Q4: What does that look like on your part?

PJ:  Okay, so now as the president, I'm just kind of really curious, like, is it something like every week or every day you have stuff to do for ALOA? Like every week, like what does that look like on your part?

Bill:  Not every week, but I know that Thursday afternoon I'm going to be at a Zoom meeting on a plane somewhere over Kansas going to Denver because the Southwest director can't make the inner mountain show over there. So I still am I'd go shoot we had a booth there and represent ALOA. So I will be on the plane to same time they're having a membership meeting, which I need to be involved in I'm going to be on the plane with the earphones plugged in on the Zoom meeting.

PJ:  Wow. Okay. Yeah, so it's just kind of like as the you know, whatever the calendar looks like in the locksmithing security industry kind of dictates kind of what's going on for you?

Bill:  I just got back about three weeks ago from a weekend or 10 days in Italy. I went over to the European Lock Federation Show, their annual meeting. It's only a two-day thing but I wanted to take extra time and we're taking my granddaughter my wife and we saw a lot of stuff over in Italy. A lot of good; a lot of antique hardware over there. I mean, talking just stuff on the doors is 3 or 400 years old. Some of that stuff is so huge decoration on the door that if you put on one of our hollow core doors it'd pull them off the hinges.

PJ:  Well, I tell you what, for hardware that old for it to still be working is impressive compared to what we deal with nowadays, right?

Bill:  Oh, yeah. If you see some little bit keys they had over there, especially back two or 300 years ago. Those things are old probably two inch bits on them. I mean, they were massive keys. I can't imagine carrying a couple of those things around today. I mean, pull your pants off try to keep them on your bill.

Q5: Why should they consider attending?

PJ:  No, no kidding. No kidding. So with the ALOA convention coming up next month, at the end of next month. It's in Las Vegas with John who was on last year with me before the show in Orlando. I was asking how can we like permanently vote for Vegas every year? I mean, it's my favorite place so I bias with that, but with it coming up, I'm really curious from your perspective as the president for anyone who is watching this live now or after, Why should they if they're not already? Why should they consider attending? Maybe taking some classes; go to the show. I'm kind of curious from your perspective.

Bill:  Oh, we did it because the friendship I had with him. Plus, the classes. I always took classes every time I went to ALOA convention. Only took three or four days’ worth of classes. Some of them I've taken two or three times. I still learn something new every time I take the classy given the same instructor. I still learn new things. I've got good friends all over United States I only see about once a year and that's at the convention every year. I made a lot of good friends, a lot of people I enjoy around the country. Especially, I would say join ALOA because of the contacts you get. If somebody called - if you call me up on the phone, said hey, 'How do I take this lock apart?' I probably tell you to bring it in. I have no idea who you are over the phone. If you called in and say, 'Okay, I'm CD Lipscomb. Oh CD How you doing?' You know how to take this lock apart. I tell him over the phone how to take it apart because I know him. There's a context like that they'll do more for you than anything else. A lot of people say, 'Okay, you get everything online.' Online is great if you really know what you're doing to start with. It's like your YouTube videos, you can learn anything on them. But the problem is that about half those things are people trying to show off how much they know when they don't know anything. So you got to know enough to be able to weed out. People are blowing smoke ash, and the people actually know what they're talking about.

PJ:  Sure. Yeah, well, I think that's some good points. I think the you know, one of the interesting parts for me would go into the convention every year in particular is like seeing the lock and key world become in real life. Right? I mean, it's just, it's always just fun to see, and getting to meet people. And I think you're right, like, I mean, all of us, like, I mean, it's good to network with your local locksmiths and not, you know, view them as enemies but allies. But on a larger scale, I know for a fact that there's a guy who is in you know, about 3 or 4 hours away who's very good with safes. Well, my dad through his friendship with him, he's come across a few safes, that he needed help on some knowledge, and he was able to talk to people. And they help each other. And I think you're right, there have been all that, go there and meet some people. It's just really good for you and your advancement in the lock and key industry for sure.

Bill:  Yep. That and also the, that's usually where the lock manufacturers try to bring out their new stuff to showcase it at ALOA. To make the trade show on the trade show floor. There's a lot of new stuff out there that maybe you haven't run across yet. You're going to run across probably.

PJ:  Absolutely. Yeah. It's a lot of fun. It's fun. For me, you know, I don't get to see all the different manufacturer, all of our vendors, face to face very often because we're in Idaho. And so going to the show and to hang out with him and meet and say hi, it's always fun to reconnect with people. You want to talk to you on the phone.

Bill:  I remember last time we were in Vegas. My wife did not go with me and I sent her got there on Tuesday. The senator Texas and I'm living on a quarter houses, porterhouse steak for next week. Salad, a baked potato, Porterhouse and a drink for $22. You can buy the steak for that. Then cook it yourself.

PJ:  Yeah. Yeah, that is that is funny. Yeah, yeah. And I think the venue you know, it's the same place it was a couple years ago back when we last time it was in Vegas, South Point. It's really nice to have the hotel and the venue right there. Pretty close to the strip. And yeah, I was really excited to see it back there at the south point. I think it's a good location.

Bill:  I think the nice thing about South Point is they're being slightly off the strip not being on the strip itself. They're trying for the old time Vegas where they used to hear the food cheap, entertainment fairly cheap to keep you in the hotels you gamble in there. I'm not a member, but I mean, I enjoy fairly cheap rooms. Rooms are $70 a night for weeknights right now at South Point. 100 - 105 on the weekend, 70 during the week. That's almost unheard of for major hotel.

PJ:  It really is. It really is.

Bill:  And most who started about 150 and go up from there a night for the cheapest.

PJ:  Yes. Yes, it gets very, I mean, you start getting on the strip in some of their basic rooms. And it is outrageously priced for sure.

Bill:  Yeah.

PJ:  So it's good. You know, I mean, I think it's good. So anyone who's looking at going not only can you meet all the different manufacturers, take classes, you know, go to the show, see what's new. But you also can stay at a hotel that is reasonably priced.

Bill:  Yep. If you want to take the next day or two and you can always go down on the strip real easy because Vegas has the overhead rail and they have all sorts of transportation around there. So maybe you want to go down the strip and see the hotels there. You can do that for a few days and still make your classes and everything else.

PJ:  Yes, I mean, now, Bill, I don't know about you, but I love one thing. I'm not really a gambler myself, but I love Cirque du Soleil shows. And so I tried to last time we were there, I treated the team to a circus on a show and I'm going to try to treat the team again to another circus. I absolutely love those shows. Have you ever seen any of them?

Bill:  Yeah.

PJ:  Okay, cool.

Bill:  There's a bunch of different hotels rather had really nice shows on.

PJ:  Yeah. It really is. It's a fun place. And by far, Bill, I don't know about you. My favorite thing about having the convention in ALOA is a direct nonstop flight to Vegas. Right?

Bill:  I had to do some hunting to find that. If you go to Toledo it has to go to Chicago on a layover for three or four hours on the way. If I go to Detroit, I can get direct flight right there and back to Detroit. And it's only about an hour and a half drive from here. Okay.

PJ:  Yeah, there's something about - I'm one of those guys that when I have layovers, I get stuck there for 24 hours. So anytime I can get a direct I like to go.

Bill:  Yeah, I was looking at coming back from Denver. I thought Friday night, if the show were ended at four o'clock, I get a flight out there and come back and started looking every flight from Denver. Back to either Toledo or Detroit was an overnight. You're going to spend the night in a hotel in an airport somewhere in an uncomfortable chair sitting there till the next morning for you to come back to. Now just stay in a hotel on Saturday morning, go real rarity flight out Saturday morning and make it back Saturday morning.

Q6: What would you say the best way for someone to learn more information and maybe contact someone at ALOA if they ask them questions?

PJ:  Sure. Absolutely. So for people who are watching and they want to and they're more curious about you know what, maybe I should look into going to ALOA to the convention here coming up at the end of July. What would you say the best way for someone to learn more information and maybe contact someone at ALOA if they ask them questions.

Bill:  And the best way is to go to the website A-L-O-A dot org. And at that point, you can click on convention and they've got the registration. They've got all the classes are listed there that you can take. All everything is going on with convention, the membership meeting on Thursday night or kickoff party. There's stuff like that. All the prices are there. It's just has everything. Now, if you can't get a room, they just put up about four days ago. Because the South Point we're starting to run out of rooms. And they got another hotel right next to the South Point that they have on the website. Now the rooms are about $20 a night more. If you can't you want to south point, you do have an overflow hotel now. File it up fast. So if you want to go, you need to get signed up.

PJ:  Yes. Good stuff. Everybody will. Yeah. And Kelly, Megan, whoever's on my team want doing this right now, if you could, just put a link to the ALOA website in the chat. So people can see it and click on it if they want to learn more for sure. Well, Bill, I'd say well, I've had an absolute blast having you on here hanging out and getting to learn about your history and about ALOA, the show coming up. And I really appreciate you taking the time to come on here. And I look forward to meeting you in person next month.

Bill:  I will be there. I don't think I have a choice.

PJ:  Oh, good stuff. Well, Bill. Thanks once again. And we will talk to you soon.

Bill:  Thank you for having me.

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