Archive for the ‘ Locksmith ’ Category

Of Pots and Pans and Garbage Cans

I wrote the following article with my locksmith friends in mind but the overall concept is apropos to any small business and the entrepreneurs who operate those businesses.

Elbert Hubbard advised fledgling businesses to “find a niche and fill it.” Sometimes  that niche is offering a service or a product that no one else offers. At other times it’s simply a willingness to accommodate the needs of your customer even when their request is outside your normal business parameters.


Of Pots and Pans and Garbage Cans

By: Jake Jakubuwski

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved 

On a recent forum visit, some of my locksmith forum buddies were discussing their preferences as to the types of locksmith work they favored.

As you might expect, the discussion was all over the place. Some specialized in one thing and some in another and several were simply General Practitioners, so to speak.

One poster to the forum said that he would perform whatever locksmith services were necessary (And presumably legal) in order to make a living. I agreed with that but told him it was better if you could offer the services you preferred rather then a lot that you “had” to offer just to keep groceries on the table and your son or daughter’s college tuition paid.

The whole discussion got me to thinking that things today really are a whole lot different then they were when I was at the point where I knew everything there was to know and I was ready to spread my wings and fly! 

Actually, I was fifteen and I wasn’t exactly soaring with the eagles so much as I was riding Shank’s Mare (Walking) with my thumb stuck out and pointing in the direction that I was headed. Every now and again, some good-hearted soul would see my thumb and stop and give me a ride just down the road or maybe even to the next small town, large city or the next crossroads.

Of course, there were always a few folks that looked at me and pointed their index finger towards the sky as if I they thought I needed to correct the direction I was traveling!

Regardless, I learned a lot about working to keep my belly filled, my feet dry and staying at the Y or a mission.

I picked apples in Western Maryland, peaches in Georgia, watermelons and tomatoes in Florida  and when I wasn’t busy pursuing those lively hoods, I was mopping floors in restaurants, washing dishes, scrubbing garbage cans, sweeping parking lots or trying to get the remains of “homemade” bean soup out of  a ten gallon cooking pot.

Since most of the jobs that I had did not require a Master’s Degree, I looked on myself as sort of a handyman-jack-of-all-trades who could, at a moments notice, drop my broom and clean a restroom — or peel a bag of potatoes.

For more on my varied and checkered career, you can download my FREE book: “PURE JAKE: The Book” and gallop along with me on some of my travels and travails.

Somewhere along the line, I picked up my GED, and wanted to settle into something solid, stable and secure. I drove a laundry truck, worked construction, did handyman type jobs and finally landed a job at Sears selling sewing machines and vacuum cleaners. That was after a stint selling used cars.

 What does all of that have to do with locksmithing? Even more to the point, what does it have to do with anything at all?

 Well, by the time I finally stumbled my way into locksmithing, I had left Sears, owned my own commercial floor cleaning company, a carpet cleaning company, and a campground reservation system. When I started my own locksmith business I would not hesitate to hang a security mirror, put a new handle on a commercial oven or replace a florescent tube in a light fixture.

 I was a locksmith but if I saw a couple of bucks laying around that I could pickup  by installing a new mirror over a sink, re-gluing Formica to a countertop or installing a mailbox on a fence post — my time was my customer’s as long as they were willing to pay for it.

 In other words, I did whatever I had to do to make a living. Just like I did when I was ‘on the road’.

 So … here’s my take on specializing. If you can specialize in any aspect of our craft and make enough money doing only what you like to do best — go for it.

 I know a lot of locksmiths who live and work in areas where the locksmith sandbox just isn’t big enough for them to make enough money specializing in safe work, or automotive, or EAC. If you’re in that situation, do whatever you must to make the money you have to make to keep yourself in business, your kids in school, your health insurance current and still have enough to enjoy a dinner and a movie occasionally.

 That means being willing to go where the money is, or do whatever is necessary to make a living. Sometimes, that work may not exactly fit the normal job description of a locksmith but the person who is willing to do pots, pans and garbage cans can always make a living.

 That’s one of the reasons I so often suggest door service and repair. Or Electronic Access Control. Or even saw and knife sharpening. All are easier, neater, cleaner, and smell better then garbage cans.







As of February 20, 20012 P

URE JAKE BOOKS & VIDEOS are available through the ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) Book store. If you are a member, visit for some great buys on eBooks, videos and PowerPoint presentations



ALSO: ClearStar Security Network (CSN) has become a PURE JAKE BOOKS & VIDEO affiliate and is offering my books and stuff (In instantly downloadable files) for sale to CSN members.


Many thanks to ALOA and CSN for their participation and support.  By the way: both organizations are members only, secured sites.

I have numerous books and videos that will be added to my catalog over the next weeks and months. There are at least two books ready, a number of videos and a couple of PowerPoint presentations.

So, if you don’t see something that strikces your fancy today, there will most likely be something that will later…

Again, my thanks to ALOA, Clearstar and all of my fans and followers…

BTW: For those who missed it: these books are all complete and unabridged. The only difference between the print versio and the eBook version is that the eBook versions are INSTANTLY (At least at the speed of your computer) downloadable and the price is just $9.99 per item!



Old Safes and Winning Lotteries….

About twenty years ago, I wrote the following article for The Hednerson Daily Dispatch.

Recently on one Face Book, a group of locksmith friends began discussing “clients” that had old, locked, safes that they needed open and were sure there was treasure maps, forgotten money or valuable manuscripts inside and wanted the locksmith to open that safe for a share of the treasure that was hidden inside.

Like many of my locksmith friends, I have been approached by folks that have bought safes at auctions, or found a safe in Grandpa’s basement and suddenly dreams of lost fortunes dance through their heads…

Alth9ugh there really have been treasures found in old safes, the chances of stumbling across one is, in my opinion, about the same as winning  big money in the state lottery…

So, I thought my readers and locksmith friends might enjoy the following:


Buying An Old Safe May Lock Up Unforeseen Costs

By Jake Jakubuwski

 Copyright, 1992 – 2012

            I imagine that on the average, I get at least one call a month from folks that are either buying or have bought “a really old safe.”  They want to know what I will charge them to get the safe open or find the combination.  When I quote our minimum price for opening a locked safe, the next statement is generally, “Gee, I only paid “x” number of dollars for it, and the fellow who sold It to me said any locksmith could open it for a few bucks.”

            The seller was good.  He sold the buyer a big box that no one has a key to.  A basically useless, big, heavy, securely locked old steel box because:  it is unopenable (without ruining it) by an unskilled person.

            The buyer, either because he really needs a safe, or thinks that after it is “restored,” that old steel box will be a valuable antique, purchases it.  Then, after much strain, aggravation, two out of six friends with a strained back, one pickup truck with a busted spring, and a chunk of concrete knocked out of his driveway, he finally get the safe into his basement or garage.  Then he calls a locksmith and finds out, that depending on what is required to open it, the price for opening it can run into serious bucks.

            Why does it cost so much to open a locked safe?  After all, we have all watched TV and seen how easily the good guys, and bad alike, can open them.  They put their ear against the door, turn the dial, listen to “the tumblers fall” (actually, there are no “tumblers” in a safes’ combination lock), turn the handle, and it is open.  Two, three minutes…tops.  I hate to disillusion everyone, but it just doesn’t work that way!

         The reason it costs so much to open a locked safe, without ruining it, is that it takes a great deal of knowledge, training, effort, proper equipment, skill, concentration and a smidgin of luck to open one…period!

            Consider this:  the average safe has three wheels, with 100 numbers on each wheel.  Theoretically, that lock has 1 million possible combinations (that’s 100 to the third power!).  Realistically, because various characteristics of a combination lock “forbid” using certain combinations, the actual number is considerably less…only 700,000 or so.  It is from these 700,000 possibilities that our safe buyer wants me to find the combination to his safe!  By no means impossible…just difficult and time consuming, provided…

            The combination lock on this old safe is functioning properly, and that the bolt work has not frozen up from disuse, and the relockers (security devices to thwart burglars, found on many safes) have not been activated by all the moving, thumping, and dropping onto concrete driveways!  If everything is within “normal” parameters, and I’m having a pretty good day, I can probably open the safe within an hour or two, without drilling, banging, burning or chiseling.

            If all is not well within the confines of that big, heavy, securely locked, old steel box, I’ll have to resort to “methods of penetration” , i.e., drilling, etc.  Then comes the repairs (always needed after drilling), and possibly a new lock, dial and dial ring.  All of which add to the cost of the opening.

             If you’re planning on buying an old safe, whether you need it to store documents in, or keep valuables in, or you just want to “restore” it for its antique value, make sure you buy one that has a known combination, or is open.  Otherwise, that big, heavy, securely locked, old steel box, might be better used as a boat anchor…provided you have a big enough boat and your friends are willing to help you move that monster again!



As of February 20, 20012 PURE JAKE BOOKS & VIDEOS are available through the ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) Book store. If you are a member, visit for some great buys on eBooks, videos and PowerPoint presentations

ALSO: ClearStar Security Network (CSN) has become a PURE JAKE BOOKS & VIDEO affiliate and is offering my books and stuff (In instantly downloadable files) for sale to CSN members.

Many thanks to ALOA and CSN for their participation and support.  By the way: both organizations are members only, secured sites.



To All My Locksmith Friends (And Others As Well):

On September 7th of this year, I gave my LAST Pure Jake face-to-face, standup locksmith seminar.

I want to thank my supporters, sponsors and “students” for their loyalty, encouragement and collaboration over the years that made PURE JAKE Learning Seminars a reality and a success. The good news — depending on how you look at it — is that I am STILL writing for The National Locksmith magazine, I am still editing their TECHNITIP column and I am still writing and selling locksmith related books.

Pure Jake Books and Videos are available at:  ( ). And, I still offer my FREE monthly — well, most months, anyway — newsletter  ( )  if you’re interested in keeping up with me and my ramblings. And you can also view my books on my FaceBook page Pure Jake Books and Videos. Click the link below:
(!/pages/Pure-Jake-Books-and-Videos/180638255295761 )

To make all of this even better, a couple of years ago, I partnered with Elite CEUs in Austin, Texas ( ) to present my classes on-line. Through Elite CEUs my courses are recognized, and accepted as CEUs in New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and other states.

That means, Pure Jake Learning Seminars are now digital! Which means you can take  your required continuing education on line on your computer or laptop and never leave the comfort of your home.

If your only interested in my books, videeos and articles, I have also made my books and other stuff available as digital downloads and you can access my catalog of offerings on my web site or my Face Book page. You can even find some FREE stuff in the mix!

So, you can see that I plan on being around the “trade” for a while longer. Oh, another thing. I now write my own blog on my web site:

I post new articles as they strike me and they are not always locksmith related. When you open the home page, look to the right side of the page. There you will see the various categories that I currently have articles written for. Take a look. Let me know what you think. The blog is interactive so you can respond to posts that I make and even criticize them!

If you still want some face-to-face, stand-up seminars — then my good friend, Derek Hooker, is the guy to talk to. He has a nice slate of classes to offer and his course material and content  is growing all the time. . You can also contact Derek at: 877-636-8384 for booking and class schedules, M-F 8am-6pm.

Now, just bear with me a moment longer… I am also writing non-locksmith related stuff! Those writings will cover self-improvement, “How-to” stuff like carpet cleaning and concrete sealing, and a bunch of other topics that I have had experience with. These books are not “reseller” offerings. I wrote ‘em and they’re based on my personal experience with the subject matter. I have not always been a locksmith — it just seems that way! {:>))  My first two offerings are: and

So, stay tuned for more about PURE JAKE. And, keep this in mind: What I write is PURE JAKE to the core!

Finally, there are a lot of folks that may be reading this that are among those that are responsible for whatever success I have enjoyed as a locksmith, a  writer and a lecturer. You each know who you are. To each of you, I want to saya heart-felt:  “THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!”


Free Lunches and Nickel Beers


NOTE: Although the target of this article  are locksmiths, the message and intent of the article is applicable to any small business that provides services or merchandise to any other business or individuals that expect, or often demand, credit privileges. When I see a sign advertising “Going Out of Business!”  I wonder if their sign should read: “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS DUE TO BAD CREDIT!” Not the company’s bad credit but their customers’.



I wouldn’t think there’s anyone who reads this who can remember nickel beers. But, in my granddaddy’s time (of course, he always told me how much better things were back then) not only could you get a beer for a nickel; many establishments offered free lunches as well! Yep! Walk into the local watering hole, plop down a nickel, pick up a large mug of draft beer; slide down the bar a bit and fix yourself a sandwich. On the house!

By the time I was old enough to patronize the neighborhood bistro, a small draft was a quarter and there might be some peanuts or pretzels (heavily salted, of course) in bowls along the bar. Today, I imagine a draft beer’s at least a buck-fifty and a small bag of peanuts or pretzels will add another buck to the tab. If the establishment you’re in happens to serve food; then a sandwich will probably cost you four or five dollars. The point?


Everything costs us money. When we go to the grocery store, we have to pay by cash, credit card or check. If we take our family out to dinner — ditto. If we go to the movies, McDonald’s or a meat market — we have to pay for the pleasure of doing business with those establishments we patronize. We have to pay for the tires on our service vehicles, the gas we put in the tanks, the licenses and insurance we carry and often a tax on the inventory we carry in those vehicles!

Since that’s the case, how come so many locksmiths feel it’s necessary for them to subsidize (The Free Lunch Syndrome) multi-million dollar enterprises with multiple outlets scattered throughout the country that won’t give that same locksmith a nickel’s worth of credit for fifty cents? Never mind a free lunch — I’m talking quid pro quo, tit-for-tat and like-for-like.

How about a small example?

Well, let’s say you get a call to rekey some locks for Mickey D’s or KFC. You go down, do the job and when you present your invoice, you find out that it “has to go to the main office for payment”. Oh….

Okay, now, walk into the same establishment, order some groceries and when the cashier says: “That’ll be six dollars and ninety-seven cents.” Then try telling her that the bill “has to go to the main office for payment!”  I’ll bet you don’t get lunch — free or otherwise — unless you come up with some cash or acceptable plastic.

In other words, your “customers” want to eat at your trough on credit, but you can’t eat at theirs unless you pay cash. Do you see anything wrong with this picture? Have you ever wondered why you have to extend credit terms (If you ain’t getting paid when the job’s done, you’re extending credit to the customer) to a bank with a zillion dollars in assets? A bank that won’t even let you open a checking account unless you deposit a minimum of twenty-five hundred bucks?

To my way of thinking that entire concept is a little one-sided. I’m realistic and practical enough to know that there’s a certain amount of business that you will do where you’ll have to “extend terms” (It’s still credit, no matter what euphemism you use). There are situations where you can’t demand payment on completion. I also know that each of us can reduce the risk of losing our shirts if we just keep one thing in mind:

Never Extend More Credit Then You Can Afford To Lose!”                                                                                     Jake Jakubuwski

In other words weigh the risks involved!

If Cheap Eddy of Cheap Eddy’s Pre-Owned Motor Cars calls you out of the blue and has six cars he just bought from the auction that he needs keys made for — you might want to think a minute before you rush down to the lot. Your first question (even before you agree to do the job) should be: “How do you intend to pay me for my services?”  If Eddy tells you “not to worry none ‘bout that, son “— worry! Because not only is he getting ready to have a free lunch at your expense, he’s gonna make you buy the beer!

Eddy might be talking a good show, but you have to recognize that he is, after all, a used car salesman! He’s programmed to tell you that doing “bidness” with you has been his life-long ambition and he’s always admired folks that can fix keys and stuff. He’s blowing smoke. He’s misdirecting your attention from the issue of billing and collecting. If you’ve ever been flimmed or flammed, you know Eddy’s blowing smoke and he’s the one looking for a free lunch — at your expense. So, naturally, your antenna should be vibrating.

On the other hand, if the local school board, hospital, or a Federal facility requests you do work and “bill” them — the chances are a whole lot better that you’ll get your money from any one of them faster and easier then you would get it from Cheap Eddy.

But how do you level the playing field? How do you know when to “hold ‘em or fold ‘em”? What criteria do you use to determine who you give “terms” to and who you don’t? One way is to pay attention to your instincts. If it don’t feel good — don’t do it! 

Another way is, as mentioned earlier, to weigh the risks. Weighing the risks might include running a credit check through a credit reporting service. It might also include sitting down with whoever’s in charge (or whoever’s asking you to do the work) and asking them to explain their company’s payment policy. Just make sure they never worked for Cheap Eddy

The most practical way for a small business person to figure out who to trust and who not to trust is to do a small job and see how well the company pays. Let Mickey D charge the rekey, get the paperwork signed and also get the name of the individual that’s responsible for paying bills for the restaurant. Then see how long it takes them to pay. Two things happen when you do this. One: they’re only into you for a relatively small amount of money. Two: if you do have to start collection procedures, you’ve got a starting point and a name to go with it.

If Phasion Phreaks calls you for a rekey and wants you to bill them; and you find that their billing department is two major rivers, one mountain range and one International boarder away from you — decline the job or insist on payment on completion of the job. Or, accept the job if they can produce a current company credit card in lieu of cash.

Remember: Just because a company has an outlet in your area and several hundred scattered around the country; they are not necessarily credit-worthy. They pay their rent on time because if they didn’t they’d lose their location. They pay their primary suppliers on time because if they didn’t they’d have no inventory to sell. They pay their employees on time because if they didn’t, they’d run afoul of Federal, State and local guidelines.

With vendors like us and a myriad of small service and maintenance vendors they may take their time or not pay at all. Don’t think so?

ust read the financial news and see how many gold-plated businesses were only operating on brass-bound gall and crashed with the clank of tin cans being dumped in a landfill.

Using a favorite ploy, the folks controlling the purse strings may not hesitate to tell you that “the store manager did not have the authority to obligate us for any service work not approved by our facilities management department”, and you wind up buying another free lunch!

So, what’s best for you? You decide! That’s not a cop out but you are going to have to determine who, when, where and for how much you’re willing to extend credit to the dozens of folks that want to feed at your trough.

The decision will not always be easy. Just keep this in mind: more small businesses get sunk every year because of out-of-control receivables than for any other reason aside from being grossly undercapitalized and mismanaged.

That means your decisions regarding credit-worthy (or unworthy) customers can easily be hazardous to your financial health and well-being. As I mentioned earlier; whatever you decide, don’t extend more credit then you can afford to loose!

Otherwise, you won’t have enough loose change in your pocket to afford a nickel beer and you definitely won’t find anyone willing to give you a free lunch!


Want to find out how other locksmiths handle their “credit problems” or keep credit from becoming a problem? Check out It always helps to network with others in the craft to find your way through the mine fields of the small business world.