Andrew’s Safe and Lock provides commercial, residential and automotive locksmith services, as well as safe and vault, access control and master key systems services, emergency services and security technology.
Run by Andrew Estes, the business has been in operation for almost 10 years. Previously, Estes had been working with his family’s company, Guam Lock and Key, but broke away to focus on automotive services, which has become his specialty. Estes has also developed expertise in safe and vault services.
One of the key things in the locksmith industry is keeping up with technological advances.
“Technology in the last 15 years has grown through leaps and bounds,” Estes said. Car keys today are made differently in an attempt to deter theft, he said. They are cut differently and also have chips in them. There have also been advances in other areas, such as automatic locks and dead bolts for homes and offices. He said he must stay on top of technology and the market.
A trend has been for better security because the regular pin lock can be bypassed, Estes said. He attends training every year and talks to manufacturers and distributors to discuss any technical shortfalls of their products. He attends two conventions for registered locksmiths, one on general locksmith and another for safe and vault.
As a result of his training, Estes carries a number of certifications to enable him to provide various services. His certifications include: GSA safe and vault technician certification; General Services Agency–approved container inspector, basic; Associated Locksmiths of America certified automotive locksmith; automotive forensics; professional safe opening; forensic and investigative locksmithing; National Safeman Organization certified journeyman safe technician; and various factor certifications, allowing him to work with certain hardware and products.
The job requires him to be on the go, so he has a mobile vehicle with all the equipment needed for any job. Equipment he works with include a manual cutter, laser key cutter, automated key cutters and programming equipment with an estimated value in the tens of thousands.
Every day on the job is different, he said. He has anywhere from two to three jobs to about 10 to 12 per day. His clients include banks, military, utility companies and petroleum companies. He has about 100 to 200 clients, many of them regulars.
“Being a locksmith requires mental flexibility. Things change constantly, and you have to change with it,” he said, and it has to be done well. The job requires time, money, and mental exertion.
Despite the difficulties of the job, he continues to do it because it appeals to his mentality of seeing how things work. He also likes the evolution of the industry and meeting different people every day.
In the future, Estes is looking forward to expanding his services.
“I’m always looking at expansion. My expansion plans are about reinforcing my current skills,” Estes said.
He hopes to work more with car distributors for new equipment to broaden services, particularly with Volvos, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. He always has his eyes on technology, buying quality products and avoiding any untried products, which requires being wary and doing research on any new products that enter the market.