Los Angeles locksmiths open up about their businesses
As a locksmith, what are some of the services you provide?
Sekely: "I work on locks on houses and doors."
Schoenfeld: "We provide assistance with lockouts, rekeying of locks and duplicating keys."
Who we talked to
Morrie Alpert, owner
Emerson's Locksmith Co.
8930 Santa Monica Blvd.
Alpert: "We repair, rekey and install locks, panic hardware electric strikes and magnetic locks."
What's the average fee for customers locked out of their house, their car or their safe?
Sekely: "It's $60 for both cars and houses. I don't work on safes at all."
Schoenfeld: "During the day, it's $65 for a house and car. A safe can be anywhere from $85 to $400."
Alpert: "For a house, car or safe it's $55, if we can get in without drilling the lock."
What's your experience as a locksmith?
Sekely: "I have around five years' experience locksmithing."
Schoenfeld: "The company's been around for 30 years."
Alpert: "39 years."
Before you start a job, do you require some type of identification?
Sekely: "Only if they're locked out of their house or car."
Schoenfeld: "When they're locked out, depending on the time of day and circumstance, sometimes we do, yes."
Alpert: "Only on lockouts, but if we get a gut feeling and it just doesn't sound right, then we'll back off the job."
What happens if the customer's ID is locked up and they can't get to it?
Sekely: "I have to check it once I'm inside."
Schoenfeld: "If they can't prove who they are after we open it up, we'll lock it back up."
Alpert: "Usually we'll ask a neighbor, and if nobody's around then we'll back off the job."
How many locksmiths work for your company?
Sekely: "Just myself."
Alpert: "I have four [locksmiths]."
What makes you stand out from your competition?
Sekely: "I don't charge higher than normal prices."
Schoenfeld: "We try to take care of our customers first, before our needs."
Alpert: "Reputation — we've been in the business for so long."
Do you have any advice for people who lock themselves out of their cars or homes all the time?
Sekely: "Get an electronic keypad."
Schoenfeld: "Keep a spare set of keys with a family member or a friend."
Alpert: "Always have a spare key with a neighbor you can trust."
Do you have any funny or memorable stories from your experience as a locksmith?
Sekely: "I had to change the locks on a 8,000-square-foot house. I had to install 32 cylinder locks and 45 window locks. That was pretty memorable."
Schoenfeld: "Not at the moment. We're just out there to take care of our customer and give them the best possible experience we can."
Alpert: "I sold two identical locks to two different people. It took one person 45 minutes to install it and the other person three hours to install."