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What to Look For in a Locksmith: An Interview with Brett McMenimon of The Flying Locksmiths

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

The Flying Locksmiths is a family owned and operated locksmith and full security provider since 1946. Our founder was becoming a pilot while working as a locksmith, hence the unusual name, which has really stuck and given way to our popular logo and pilots on top of the service vans. We are based in Randolph, Ma but service the entire state and parts of New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Our services are constantly evolving with changes in technology. Some of our services include: rekeying, lock installations, lock outs, lock repairs, mailbox locks, padlocks, high security locks, decorative locks, and safe deliveries and installations. And that's just naming a few!

How did you get into this line of work?

I am a third generation locksmith, so it's in my blood. The company was started by my Grandfather, William McMenimon, and passed down to his sons (one of whom, is my dad) years later. Now, my brother Barry and I are working hard every day to provide the best service we can and evolve with the times. Meanwhile, my Father's golf game seems to be improving.

What does most of your business come from? People coming to your shop or you travelling to their house?

The majority of our work is at home services. We cut keys and rekey locks here at our Randolph location, but it is much easier to have a professional locksmith come to your home and take care of everything for you. We can even make duplicate keys right in our vans!

How has business been since the recession hit, hiring a locksmith is not something that cannot be avoided when you are locked out..so have people gone the locksmith way in hard times or tried to do the job themselves with a 'custom' locksmith job?

The recession hasn't affected our industry much. There seems to always be a need for our services, and the security of your home is not something that can downgraded or ignored. Even if money is tight, your physical security shouldn't suffer. It just boils down to priorities. However, one particular change we have noticed, is that a lot of home owners seem to be purchasing their own locks from hardware stores. While there is nothing wrong with what they are selling, they are not the same grade lockset you can get from a local locksmith. A locksmiths hardware is just a step below what you would find on a hospital or school, but a grade above the hardware stores, obviously this is reflected in the price. But if you are looking to save a little, most locksmiths are more than happy to install anything you bought, just remember though, they won't warranty it.

Do you provide all these services: opening a locked door (if the key is lost, stolen or misplaced); removing a lock (if the lock is broken or damaged); making a key, re-keying a lock, installing a lock?

Absolutely! And much more! We have seen an influx in push button locks on homes as well. So, instead of using a key, you just type a numerical code on the door and you're in! They even make locks that will unlock when your smartphone is in the vicinity. It's pretty incredible stuff.

What should homeowners be looking for in a qualified locksmith company?

Most importantly, you want to avoid the scams. There is a problem in our industry, nationwide, where you place a call to someone who is supposed to be local, but only has a local phone number. Your call will reach a dispatch center somewhere and they will send unqualified individuals with a drill and absolutely no experience. They will pry, drill, hammer and ruin your existing hardware, all while hiking up the price and pressuring people to pay it. A good locksmith can get you back into your house without leaving a scratch. Also, any reputable company will have a storefront, company uniforms, and marked vans. Just do a little research before you call a locksmith and use websites like Yelp or Angie's List to check reviews and make sure they are actually local.

What should new homeowners or inexperienced homeowners be aware of when dealing with a locksmith company?

One of the major reasons for lockouts is the door between the garage and house. No one ever seems to have a key for it or they forget it's a locking set. There are two things you can do to avoid running into this problem: have spare keys made, or put a passage lockset on. A passage set will keep the door latched, but it won't lock. Also, homeowners should make sure all exterior doors have deadbolts installed. A locked deadbolt is much harder to open than a knoblock and provides much better security. If the deadbolt is being installed on a door with any glass paneling, you should make sure to get a double sided lock, one that requires a key on both sides. This will prevent someone from breaking the glass and reaching in to unlock the door.

What sets your business apart from other comparable companies? Is there anything you believe you do better/different?

Our best attribute is our response time. We run six vans around Massachusetts every day, so we can almost always have a locksmith over to you when you need one. Most locksmiths run one or two vans, which means you will have to wait for a considerable amount of time before they get to you. We also don't use any automated messages when you call for service. When you call us, you will speak to a trained locksmith who can answer any questions you might have, because if you are like us, you hate pressing zero to talk to an actual human!

Do you offer emergency services for people locked out in the middle of the night?

We only offer emergency service to our commercial customers, but we are more than happy to point you in the direction of a local locksmith in your town who can help.

Do you have any new plans for your company in the near future?

We are in the process of rebranding and reimaging ourselves. We feel our name limits the expectations of what our customers think our services are. When someone thinks of a locksmith, they think of only keys and locks, but we do so much more than that! Card access and camera work is becoming more and more financially feasible, and it won't be long until everyone is having it installed on their home. So don't just think of us a locksmith, think of us a full security provider. If it's on the door, we will fix it replace it, or upgrade it. So, in effort to combat this stigma, we were thinking about changing our name to FlyLock Security, but are always open to suggestions.

What are the most difficult kinds of projects?

The most difficult kinds of projects are older homes with antiquated locksets. When these "older locks" need replacement or repairs, it is extremely difficult to find parts. Almost all locks that are manufactured today are designed to fit in a standardized 2 1/8" hole. The older locks are much larger and require special plating, in order for a modern lock to fit. It's usually not the most ascetically pleasing way to install a lock. That's why we will always attempt to repair the older style locks, before we even consider a replacement. It saves our customers money and will hopefully get a few more years out of their current locksets.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

The fastest and easiest way to setup or schedule a job with us is through our website. Just visit us online and click "schedule work" and someone here will get back to you immediately. It's the most simple and convenient way. Or, if you prefer, just call any of our phone numbers and talk to Brad, Brett or Steve. We'll always pickup, and you don't have to sit through an automated menu! Just real, local locksmiths answering your questions, anytime you need us.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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