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What is going on with the Ilco Key Blank Directory? If you work with locks and keys, it's only been about a year since the directory went out of print. On top of that, the directory was over 10 years old when it was last printed. So, it's kind of out of date and so many of you have been like, “Hey, where's that new one out? I thought it was going to be out in around August, what's going on?” So, to get to the bottom of this question, and get you the best answer, I went ahead and got Walter with Ilco.
WALTER’S BACKGROUND WITH ILCO
PJ: Walter, thank you so much for joining me and allowing me to pick your brain about the new key blank catalog.
Walter: Yeah, sure. Absolutely, glad to be here. Good to be with you.
PJ: The last time that I had talked to someone in Ilco about this was with Brandy and I know that she's now in a different position. So, before we start with the catalog topic or the directory topic, could you introduce yourself a little bit? How long have you been in Ilco and what you do there?
Walter: Absolutely, yeah. So, I'm Walter Fuldner and I'm our Senior Marketing Manager for North American key systems. I've been with Ilco since February of this year, and I'm new to the industry but primarily, my role is to get an understanding of the market that we service, and communicate with the market of how we can best benefit them in their day-to-day lives. I work with some subject matter experts, product managers, and all of our product lines. So, the key blank product manager, the storefront hardware cylinder, key cutting machines, digital solutions, and automotive solutions. But typically, people think that marketing is promos, advertisements, or social media. I'm involved in all that, but my goal is to communicate effectively with the market and how we can help improve your day-to-day operations.
PJ: Okay, yeah. Talking about cylinders, metal keys, or automotive keys, these three alone are a wide spectrum and I'm curious about how much knowledge and understanding of key blanks do you have before you came to Ilco?
Walter: Very little. I mean, I have keys to open up my doors and my house and my car. And I had no idea that the amount of technical information and engineering details are so instrumental in everything that we manufacture. I had no idea that there were many key blanks as there are and one thing that I found to be interesting was the number of key blanks that are manufactured here at Ilco each year. I had no idea that the market demand that quantity. I assume there's some great void out there that everyone's dumping their keys in so we can manufacture more but no. It's been an education, for sure. And with all the acronyms and the details of each product line, I mean, months, I was confused. I didn't understand the language. And so, the nomenclature is becoming more familiar to me. I have a better understanding of it now but it takes some time to understand what's going on.
PJ: Absolutely. I mean, as people get into the industry, and they start trying to learn key blanks or automotive and all that, it's overwhelming. To be on the manufacturing end of that, I can only imagine it can get complicated at times. So now, you are forever ruined when it comes to keys, right?
Walter: Yeah, yeah, I am.
WHEN WILL ILCO RELEASE THE NEW KEY BLANK DIRECTORY AND WHAT TO EXPECT?
PJ: So, 10-11 months ago, we had brought Brandy on. We talked about updating the key blank directory and a question that we were getting a lot then until now is, "Where's the new key blank directory? I can't get the old one. I want the printed version. When am I going to be able to get that?" And so, when can we get a printed version of the Ilco key blank directory?
Walter: It will be the early part of 2023. We're hopeful that it will be the first or second month - January or February of 2023. You will be able to have the printed hard copy of the key blank directory. And I know you're well aware and I think a lot in our market are aware, there are digital copies readily available on our website and then also on our application, or phone and a web browser at mykeyspro.com - it has all of our offerings in one envelope from all the key blanks to look-a-like remotes, transponder keys, key cutting machines, and in soon all of our cylinder offerings as well. So digitally, it's available now. Go to Ilco.us to see the new key blank directory, but the hard copy will be in early 2023.
PJ: Okay, so the new 13th edition after a 12-year timeframe has been from the 12th to the 13th is done? The digital copy is available, but the printed version isn't going to be until the beginning of next year.
Walter: That's right. Yup.
WHAT’S NEW OR DIFFERENT?
PJ: So, what I'm curious about is from Ilco's perspective, what is new and/or different about the 13th edition? What can people do when they click on the links? What are they going to notice that is different?
Walter: Some of the major changes, any new offering, any new product offerings, since the 2010 release will be included in the key blank directory, so all of our new key blanks, any new key cutting machines, all new imagery for those products. Also, all of our lookalike key remotes will be included in the key blank directory as well.
PJ: Yes. That's huge to have all of those keys in that guide now. Are all the pictures colored? Are they technical drawings? What do they look like?
Walter: No, they're actual pictures. Of course, no pictures of every key blank but there are graphics of each key to scale or size to actual size and the lookalikes are the same so-
ILCO’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE HARD COPY IN THIS DIGITAL AGE
PJ: Okay, cool. Something that I find fascinating is that we live in this digital age now, right? Where we communicate, there's so much information available. We communicate so quickly when it comes to using anything online, right? But when it comes to key blanks, and you're having like yet this key blank here, you need to try to find it so you want that book that's sitting right behind you there, right? You want to look through and want to compare and there's still something to be said, here we are 2022, the new printed version of 23. And we still want that key, that we can look at, and compare all the little nuances of the size, the shape, and how long is the shaft on it. How long did that? Does the milling go up? All of those little things still and so, I'm kind of curious, from your perspective, Ilco's perspective. I mean, it's one of those things that I'm sure would be nice to not have to go to such great lengths to get this printed copy in hands in a digital world, but it's still so needed. I mean, is that a conversation that you guys have over there?
Walter: Yeah, I mean, and we were decisive with what we wanted to do because it's a big undertaking to spend this amount of time and create a hard copy of the key blank directory and it's expensive too to put it together, and have it printed for our market but in addition to the hardcopy as I mentioned, the digital side, there are copies readily available on our website and then also within MY KEYS Pro, you'll find all of our key blank offerings but we do have some things in the works that I'm not ready to share with you yet. But I believe that will be a nice alternative to the traditional, you will take the key and you'll put it up against the book to see if that's the right size and so what we can do is we can make a later date and come back and talk about that initiative a little bit down the road when we're ready to present it but yeah, we're excited about that.
PJ: Interesting, when you talk about that like some things come to my head and I know you tell us more if you could so I won't poke but I'm excited to hear what that is.
Walter: Yeah, we're excited to tell you. It's just not we're not quite there yet, but you'll know when we're ready.
HOW BIG IS IT GOING TO BE?
PJ: Okay, now when it comes to something that is kind of customized, like adding all of the key blanks, or all of the remote head keys, all those lookalikes, and adding all this stuff to the catalog, I'm imagining that this new catalog is going to be pretty thick, like, are we thinking double the size of that once it behind you or like, how big is this thing going to be?
Walter: It's going to be bigger. It's not double, but the page count is, it's well into the fours. I don't think it's quite 500 pages, but it'll be hefty. I mean, you're going to have to stretch before you pick it up and make sure you don't twist too much when you're lifting it, strain yourself so it's got a lot of content in it. And we worked hard on it. And we hope everything that we put into it is beneficial to anyone in need of that information.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO STAY UPDATED ON THE NEW KEYS?
PJ: Okay, yeah. So, I'm guessing that Ilco is continually putting out new keys and the catalog is technically done, getting ready to be printed, what happens with the new keys that are being made? How are you going to be releasing those? what's the best way for them to kind of stay updated on the new keys?
Walter: As you stated, the key news that we send out is our major announcement that we let everyone know whenever we have new keys to announce. MY KEYS Pro, one of our product launch strategies is as we add new keys to our catalog, we want to make sure that the public is aware. We want to make sure that it's updated in the digital version of MY KEYS Pro but right now, we're not sending out alerts every time we add keys to MY KEYS Pro, which is probably something we should look into so everyone is aware. But as you also said, once the publication is finalized, and it goes to print, it's outdated. I mean, it'll be outdated for us within a couple of weeks because we're continually adding new products and new keys to our offerings. But we do our best as we are figuring out this digital world and how we can communicate new offerings to the market and so MY KEYS Pro is absolutely a way to learn about our new releases.
PJ: Cool. It's going to be great for the industry. So, I appreciate you guys updating it and adding so much to it because, at the end of the day, it does add a ton of value to anyone who works with locks and keys. So, thank you, Walter, thanks for working on that.