The third MLA Locksmith in the ‘Interview With a Locksmith’ series is Roger Barratt, the owner of Gemini Lock and Safe, a Locksmith based in Bedford, Roger is the current chairman of the MLA. For those who missed the other interviews, we are going to be asking some of our Master Locksmith Association members some general questions about themselves and their companies, all questions relating to the Locksmith industry in general. So if you are already in the industry, a outsider looking in or looking to become a locksmith, hopefully some of our members answers will provide a insight into the industry and maybe answer some questions you have had about locksmithing in general.
1. So tell us a little bit of a back story about yourself, when did you become a Locksmith and how long have been a Locksmith?
I became a locksmith when I was 26 after trying various other jobs. Being a Locksmith is a disease and I’m one of those that’s infected. I still love the job with a passion and still get a buzz when picking open or bypassing a mortice , Safe or UPVC door locks.
2. How did you originally get into Locksmithing and Why?
Based in Bedford I first entered the trade in 1989, joining a small alarm company called HC Security as a lock fitter/ key cutter/safe servicer. We were then bought out by Shorrock Security and I became retail manager. I joined the MLA as a student member in January1991. We were then bought out by The Initial group. At that point I decided to start my own company ‘Gemini Security’. On 25 September 1994 I passed what was then the full members examination. Following our first inspection in Jan 1998 I found myself the proud owner of my own MLA approved company now known as Gemini Lock & Safe Ltd. In 2004 I applied, was trained and accepted as an MLA inspector. In 2007 I was approached and successfully stood to join the MLA board and duly elected as the Chair.
3. What advice do you have for people wanting to become a locksmith?
Unfortunately our industry has become saturated with weekend wonders and cherry pickers but if you are prepared and disciplined to attended the training courses/expos/meetings etc to aquire the skills to become a Master Locksmith then it’s still a hugely rewarding profession.
4. How has the being a member of MLA helped you as a locksmith?
When I started Locksmithing not living in a major town/ city I felt a bit isolated. So joining the MLA gave me access to other locksmiths and training throughout the country. Meeting people who are in a similar situation to me or specialists in their field eg Safes, UPVC, Access Control, Master Keying which gave me the confidence to grow my business. It also allowed me to take the BLI exam not because I had to but because I wanted to.
5. 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 has affected everyone. There will always be the DIY brigade. The people that have seen youtube videos . But if you are good at what you do, reliable and honest there is still plenty of work out there.
6. What are your plans for the future?
To ensure the MLA remains the leading locksmithing voice in the UK and goes from strength to strength.