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Hey, everyone. PJ here with CLK, and I have a special guest for you. His name is Bob with Odin's lock. He has been a locking boss community member now for some time, and I am excited to share his story and his insights. And I tell you what, the world needs more Bob's in it. Well, Bob, thank you for joining me. I'm excited to learn more about your story and how you got on the path to becoming a locksmith. So, thanks for coming on.
Bob: Yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the invite.
HOW BOB STARTED LOCKSMITHING
PJ: Yeah, so if we were going to start at the beginning, like how long have you been locksmithing for?
Bob: I've been locksmithing since 1994. I was a maintenance guy. I had a manufacturing plant. There's a just molding, I was in the primary department, and they started having me trying to get into cabinets for them. And that's not exactly why I began locksmithing, but my boss and I told him, I kept getting these things from the entire bill, they saw these little cards in the mail, if you want to be a locksmith, you can do this, take this course. And they were local to Kansas City, and they had a fully built saw site herein for me. So I told my boss, and he's like if you want to take that, I'll let you start doing more than that type of stuff, make keys and things like that and kind of get into the system. So that's kind of how I started, and they didn't pay for it. They thought they were going to, but then they wanted to change management, so I didn't get paid. I did all locksmith to open cars and stuff. One of the first things I bought was a car kit to do the vehicles. Now back in the 90s, so Slim Jims. I mean, the indoor cavity tools they've worked on most everything, so that's kind of how I got my start, and I put the bullet belts on Got my, you know, political saw certification. And then from there, in that main spar bag got down with Harley Davidson in the Main Department out there, I got on there as a welder. But after I got into the main Spartan from being on the wildlife for a year or two, I've been certified, and he had all the tools anyways. They went ahead let me take over the system there too. And there's another maintenance mechanic there too, that was doing it before I got in there. And the fact I had experienced, he's got like, here you can have, you know, they want to keep that work in the house. So that's how we got in, we use some of the local locksmith shops or some of the big stuff, you know, that we needed, you know, if we needed a whole bunch of best cores or property, we might, you know, outsource to them until we started getting what I, what we figured out we needed key combination, we needed to, you know, dumping blocks to be able to do IC core stuff. Now, I already had code software, I bought a framon 2, and I got the, you know, the generic code as my first software and then they bought HPC code source. And so I had different forms of software. So, but that's pretty much how I got started doing locksmithing as a professional, you know, within a maintenance department, then I created my own business in 2012 and started doing that outside that business. And that's where I got my cargo van. And I had my framing 2, and I started developing all my hardware, you know, tools and equipment. And I took a lot more training, hardly spent, you know, they'd send a few of us out to the movement to do the locksmithing to maintain the facility. It was a pretty big system out there. But I do every training opportunity I can around here locally, yet I've been doing my own since 2012. The dive I still even afford. I'm a Pipe Fitter there, but I have a key machine there and people know I do locks so they bring stuff to me. I do a lot of stuff out there locksmithing, which before this plant didn't have an actual locksmith. They just never found the need for it. They had security that does their main best. But outside of that, I mean they don't have anyone. They do have a locksmith down the street and the fact I'm already there in house, they just let me do all of that stuff. So that's pretty much how that works. It works out pretty good.
PJ: Interesting. Okay. So you started kind of dabbling in doing some locksmith stuff in the middle of the 1990s there. And from a sort of the maintenance type of background there, and then fast forward, almost a couple decades in 2012, you decided to, like, formally kind of launch your own locksmithing business?
Bob: Yes, yes. Yes. Because when you do institutional, commercial type locksmith, and you always had people, Hey, can you make, you know, can you rekey my deadbolt on my house and it's strange, because, you know, we're used to the more heavy-duty hardware, you know, in the factories and the commercial settings and the industrial settings. And so when you get into residential, I kind of had just a little bit harder because there's such a variety. It's, you know, and in a factory, we use the best, you know, or Schlage or something, you know, that a whole lot of variety you know as far as to manufacture. When you get into residential, you got weslock, Schlage, Kwikset, and all the types, brinks, gatehouse, you have all kinds of different ones. Every brand out there, you know, as far as locksmithing quality, you know, they carry, you know, the SC1 or the KW1 keyway, so getting out in the residential was a little bit harder for me, you know. Because at factory usually, you got eight hours, while they're there, you know, they're always open anyways. In residential, you know, they want right now, you know, that's, you know, they don't want any more strangers running in, and out of their house, they want it done now, you know. So, to have what you need to get the job done and, you know, 30 minutes or an hour, you know, unless you got a large, you know, lock scheme to do. But you know, it's residential. I found it a little more complicated because of the variety of stuff. In the factory, you can kind of understand what you're going to need. So, but, you know, that's for locksmithing. I was doing door hardware before that when I was in the army, you know, as RMU, you know, and so I, I got into door closers, panic bars onset before that, I just didn't do any rekeying in the army, so.
PJ: Okay, wow. Hey, thanks for serving.
Bob: Well, thank you.
WHAT SERVICES DOES HE OFFER?
PJ: That's awesome. When it comes to the locksmith and work you do today, are you mainly just doing the residential commercial? Do you do any automotive at all, or kind of what does that look like?
Bob: I do not do automotive. I focus more on residential commercials. The automotive, you get more than that emergency stuff. What I don't want to do is try to squeeze a job in and wind up turning someone's car into a brick on wheels because I didn't do something right. You know, not I have to go back to my other job. I'll be right back. I would never want to do something like that. I mean, I can open vehicles, but you get to that emergency stuff. And I don't want to do emergency stuff right now. So I don't plan on being in the factory much longer. I stay much longer, maybe 2, 3, 4, or five years in it. In the automotive industry, they open and close plants constantly. You know, never forbid they ever shut ours down here. It's been here for so long. They make it f 150s and four transits out here, but uh, you know, I'm always prepared for those times where I don't have work. So you see, I do welding too, then locksmithing is my main gig. That's what I put all my money into. I'm bonded, insured, got all my local stuff. We're not a state-licensed, you know, type, you know, Missouri's not a, they don't require a state license, but all localities require you to be, you know, registered as a business within your locality. So it does, you know, we're regulated, but just not in a level, I got to pay a bunch of money to the state, you know, so it's, we do keep an eye on people. You see, I see people doing locksmiths in my area, and I'll get their names and numbers; I'll try to reach out to them. But, you know, I tried to filter people into our local association. We have a Missouri-Kansas locksmith Association. And that's, we have all different varieties of a locksmith to show up there. Some of them are just retired, trying to stay in the conversation. Some of them, you know, they, you know, bring your stuff to sell or donate, and locksmiths are still doing their stuff. But this is a great industry. You see, it's a beautiful industry. A lot of beautiful people out there are surrounded by supply houses. You see, okay, you have a lot of stuff many other places don't have, which is cool, you know, and your prices are great. But I do have locals. I do try to use you know, whenever possible so.
PJ: Sure. Well, yeah. I do appreciate the business. You know, it's something I'm curious about, right? So you'd work night shifts at the Ford factory?
Bob: 3pm. Right now, for our shifts 3 pm to 3 am. And I go workday; I got a working shift. I got seniority, but I like the afternoon shift. It allows me if I need to get up at a 7 am job or a noon job, I can still do that. So that makes ours as close as I need to be. Most customers I get haven't merged. See, I have other locksmiths. I know that I can filter them too. And we kind of push work to each other. So.
WHAT IS IT LIKE HAVING TWO FULL-TIME JOB
PJ: Okay, so I mean, it's safe, you know, it's safe to say that you work a lot. I mean, that has to be, I mean, challenging at times. But, so when it comes to, you know, working your 3 pm to 3 am and then also doing locksmith in work. Those are some full days. I mean, is it pretty hard for you to manage?
Bob: No, not really. I mean, I've always been a night person anyway, so even you know, if I know I've got a lock job, I've kind of usually everything is ready to go. So I get up and use everything scheduled, prepared to go. The day works out well. Now I'm not a morning person, but I usually get up at 9, 10, 11 am; no problem. In most jobs, I get them pretty quick. And I'm also accessible on the weekend. So, you know, the customers want to wait until a better time. I can wait till Saturday, Sunday, whatever. I've never had a problem.
PJ: Wow. Okay, that's very impressive, you know, And speaking of your step van that you're just talking about there for a second, you're sitting in it right now. And by the way, I see the cool lockbox sticker in the background. That's cool. But -
PJ: Yep. But you know, I'm, so I watched your video on that, you know, and it's a 74 GMC step van, right?
Bob: Yes. Yeah.
PJ: I apologize if I refer to it as a box van. I always refer to those as box vans. So I'm going to try to say step van, but I might get a little squirrely on you with it. But, you know, I found watching your tour kind of going through everything, right? You spent a lot of time trying to lay stuff out, be prepared. I mean, you can see all the little cubbies back there right behind you. Right? There are all sorts of parts and pieces, and it dawned on me that you have a mobile locksmithing shop over like a van type of situation. I'm just curious, do you keep practically everything in that van, or do you also have like a setup at your house that you'll do stuff in as well?
Bob: My garage is packed full. My one son went into the Air Force; I have all this stuff out in the garage, my other son came back home temporarily until he had some other stuff changed. So, all his stuff is there. My in-laws, the property is in our garage. My garage is packed. I keep whatever I need. I shouldn't have to go digging around for anything. Everything I need is in my step van, and I have some welders in my garage, but I don't think it's too cold. I'm not chasing that kind of work right now. But, you know, I have everything I need in my step van.
I have an office in my house that I use. Suppose I need to do administrative paperwork type stuff and have file cabinets. I keep all my paperwork at home. You know, I don't keep all my customer stuff in my step. Anything personal with receipts and things like he bought things in my house. But, yeah, I mean, everything I need. All I got to do is unplug, I keep it plugged in to the house for sure power, so I have a heater running here all night. You know, when I know I'm going to come out here in the morning and do stuff. I do other weird things on the site, too. I make spoon rings and strange things, you know. I have everything in here I need to do that. So it's, I'd like to come out here just hang out. Sometimes I'll watch Netflix movies or listen to music. Being a 74, there's always stuff to do on this vehicle. So you know, there's never a lack of what can be done on a 74.
Bob: That van is a General Motors term for their vehicle. Step van is a value van. Step in is generical, you know, they call them to step vans, curbside delivery vehicles, box trucks, box vans, whatever. But I called step-in, but the brand is a GMC value van, where Chevy is the Chevy step name. Too much history on it.
PJ: Yeah, nice. Yeah, so it's good. I liked that. And you know, we'll put a link in the notes for anyone who wants to check out that video, they kind of walk you through, and it's entertaining. Like, I feel like watching those types of videos where you're going through it, you get an understand-- like, you see the love of the industry through those videos, and how much you care and how you tried to get set up. And something that kind of like the tone I type of got a lot, though, was the fact that you're trying to set it up. So, A: when you go to a job, you can be successful, but B: you can have what you need or have the spare parts that you need to make your customers happy, right, which is also massively important.
PJ: So I think that's awesome.
Bob: I'll just say, I used to have a cargo van. It was an E250. And it was always so cramped. And if you're a packed like me and you want to have everything on a job with me, you know, I'm just amazed at how well some of the other locksmiths out there. I watch a lot of different locksmith channels. Just surprised at how they fill stuff and then the organization. When you do automotive, I don't know if that makes it a different, you know, how they organize stuff. They have fancy drawers and things with all the bands.
I can't. I'm just not that, you know, organized. I have things where I have to have room to get stuff out and go through stuff, you know, and I kind of know where everything is. So you know it works for me just like, you know, the OCD level of organization works for some as other people, and I admire them. I mean, I wish I could be that organized; I'm just not. But this step in, it's wide open up. I can do everything. And I have a whole other channel with. You don't need to link any of it to it. But it's me building them, the step van, you know. Tearing it all out when I first got it and got it going again. But, you know, I'm not that good at doing videos. And I admit, it's like I jump around too much, move around. It depends on what level of copy I have in me on how well I can stay on one subject or not. So. But yeah, I like doing videos. And if anyone gives anything out, I'm great. I hope it helps someone out there. So
PJ: Absolutely. So you know, the last kind of question I have for you, I just want to talk about is what type of advice would you give someone who maybe has a job similar to what you had, perhaps they're maintenance, maybe they have a job, and they're looking at wanting to start their own locksmithing business? Like, what's something that you've learned as you've been doing this on your own now for, I guess, a decade that someone might be able to get some value from?
Bob: Well, you know, I don't know if it gets discussed enough about the code of ethics, you know, about how you would. When people first start, they tend to act like locksmiths are ripping people off because they charge and stuff. And so, you know, one thing I learned is don't dog on other locksmiths. You know, don't say, well, I could do it cheaper than that guy. And he, you know, he ripped you off and stuff. So when people are starting, they want to, you know, like, show off that they know how to do this thing. You know, be professional above all else. And you know, do the customer I do that the industry, right? As far as equipment and stuff, you know, you must have a duplicator and start depth and space keys. So you can do code cutting and get into the code software. I know framon has stuff. HPC, you know, I like to lock codes online, Blackhawk codes, I think it's not sure what it codes online. Things what it is, I use a yearly subscription, they're all good, you know, some of them have stuff that the others won't, but be professional, you know, don't have fancy anything.
Do it right, you know, if something needs to be replaced and replace it, you know, and just tell the customer because I don't want to warranty, a used, you know, thing, you know, a doorknob and just, you know, make it work just, so they're happy for now and do it right, you know, tell them to ask you your place and, and you know, they want to keep it going and let them make that determination, but don't make it part of your professional, you know, your business model that I'm just trying to save the buck, you know, because, you know, it didn't, it'll wind up being someone else to come along and have to redo whatever you did, you know, and it just makes the industry look bad. I try to be professional. I mean, I don't have all the fancy uniforms. I don't keep all the signage on my vehicle, partly because I don't want my truck broken into. That happens a lot in this area. It says locksmiths on the side, and it'll be a target for someone to break into. So, I don't have signs, but I know lock customers. They don't want people knowing who that guy is at their house too. So in my area, people don't like to be bothered with who's you know, when I see a locksmith, you get your locks to change. So, you know, they want the anonymous part of what I do.
For someone starting to learn to trade, you know, before you start putting yourself out there to work on a customer's, you know, property. You don't want to have fast stuff. When I go to a house, I see locks. They just had someone rekey, you know, everyday work. You see, the keyways are upside down; it's in Europe, you know, our keys, you know, the biddings on the top, you know. So it's like, I know that it was a handyman or someone else, and they did whatever they did install or whatever, you know, I thought I'll knock him out, say that somebody did a terrible job. Yeah, you know, I try to be professional.
The customers don't want to feel like they got ripped off. You know, and so if I try to, you know, soften you know, so that's just trying to do it, right? Do right the first time. You don't want to be that guy. They hate to call, you know, I mean, I hate to have to call a plumber, you know, but if the guy's cool, I don't mind calling them, like, give me Randy, you know, not take Randy hit. No. And so I don't follow, I try to be friendly with my customers and then start. You know, learn how to have good people skills, make people feel comfortable with having you there to do their work. So that's, you know, there are so many videos out there about how to how to become a locksmith, you know, I try to tailor my videos around what I don't hear them talk about sometimes. So I have weird subjects or topics, but nice things that I wish were discussed. So that's why I put some stuff I do
PJ: Good stuff. Well, yeah, I think that's some excellent advice. Bob, you know, I really appreciate you, chat with you and learn some good stuff, you know, and honestly, thank you for being a locksmith. I think the people like you out there doing the work are good.
Bob: Thank you. I appreciate all the support you do for the industry. You know, I try to watch all the time, I can't. I'm usually at the plant when the lights come on. So it's like, for me, it's like I tried to get on there about me after the fact. So I try to comment, you know, hit the thumbs up. I appreciate what you do for the industry. So
PJ: Thank you, Bob. All right, was that a great interview or what? Bob, thank you so much for doing that and, you know, very insightful, and you know, my hat's off to you for having a full-time night job and doing your locksmith in business during the day. I tell you what, that is a lot and I am impressed. But everyone who is watching I would love to know, and I'm sure Bob would too as well in the comments below. What are your thoughts, questions, and kind of what you got out of the interview?
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