MLA Master Locksmiths are Vetted Inspected Qualified

Unlocking Success, Regent Locksmiths: Gerard Brandreth’s journey as an MLA Approved Company

Gerard Brandreth of Regent Locksmiths

In our latest “Meet a Member” interview, we sit down with Gerard Brandreth to discuss his remarkable journey into locksmithing and the impressive business growth he has experienced since becoming an MLA Approved Company.

After joining as a registered member in 2020, he achieved a significant milestone by passing the MLA Exam in 2022, earning the prestigious title of Qualified Master Locksmith (QML).

In 2023, his company, Regent Locksmiths, proudly became an Approved Company as a locksmith in London.

Join us as Gerard shares his insights, challenges, and the pivotal moments that have shaped his success. Whether you’re looking to learn from a seasoned entrepreneur or curious about the benefits of MLA Approved Company membership, this interview offers valuable takeaways.

Tell us a bit about you and your business.

My first foray into the trades was when I got a job for a multi-generational family owned and operated commercial roofing company.  They celebrated their 100th anniversary last year.  Working for such an established company taught me a lot and it also became quickly apparent that they were true specialists in their field.

So often we would be finding solutions to roof leaks that several other companies had failed to resolve; or taking on jobs that few others had interest in.  It was an experience that has influenced the way I have shaped my own business over a decade later.

So, onto locksmithing.  While working in the in-house maintenance department at a property management company, I was grateful for a professional development programme available to me, and my employer agreed to fund my training as a locksmith.

As neither I nor they knew anything about the trade at the time, I was unfortunately not trained by the MLA.  But it was enough to get me started and, in all honesty, most of the work was pretty straightforward – lock changes, simple repairs, the occasional door unlocking.

It was a fairly gentle introduction to the trade, and I think I benefited from being able to focus on the locks rather than also having to learn how to run a business.  And with no other locksmith employed there, I had to figure out everything technical for myself.

In 2018 the company moved, tripling the time of my morning commute and it was shortly after that I decided to take the plunge and start my own business, Regent Locksmith.

Now in my 6th year of trading, I have expanded from general residential locksmith work and while I’m still doing that in the local area, the majority of my work is now more specialised.

Repairing tilt and turn windows is something I never imagined I’d get involved in when I became a locksmith, but once I realised how desperate the shortage of skilled repairers is, I was determined to make it my niche.  Tilt and slide doors, bi-folds and everything aluminium naturally followed and that is where I am picking up work that others are turning down or failing to deliver on.  Same approach as my old roofing employer.

“More recently, I have started opening and installing safes, fitting burglar alarms and working on intercoms and access control systems.  It is all about offering a complete security package to customers.”

How did you become interested in locksmithing, and what led you to pursue it as a career?

When working in general maintenance, I knew I wanted to specialise.  One day at work, a colleague made an off the cuff remark, “Mate, I think you’d make a good locksmith” and that sowed the seed.  It stayed on my mind for a while and when my employer offered to fund training in a trade, I knew that I wanted it to be as a locksmith.

What was your biggest challenge starting out? And how did you overcome it?

I think the biggest challenge for any new locksmith is product knowledge.  We have all heard customers refer to something as “just a normal lock” and I think it is really hard to appreciate just how diverse locks and security can be until you see things from our side.

I made a rule for myself from day one – no asking for help without trying to figure out the answer myself first.  And I also stayed away from Facebook groups and other locksmith social media for most of my first 2 years.  This forces you to put in the time to really understand how something works or how to identify a part you have not seen before.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

For a simple moment of satisfaction, picking open a safe is a great feeling.

But more broadly, I really enjoy finding solutions to more complex problems.  It could be finding workable alternatives to discontinued parts, finding a fault that is tricky to identify or just having an answer when a customer wants something very specific.

How did you find out about the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA)?

I was aware of the MLA when my old employer was looking into training providers, but at that stage I didn’t understand what set it apart from all the alternatives – the need to actually prove your skills and knowledge by passing the MLA Exam.  Once I started the business however, it became quickly apparent that MLA membership and approved company status was the route I wanted to go down.

Locksmith Qualification Programme

How has being a member of the Master Locksmith Association helped your business?

I knew I’d had a good year but was genuinely stunned when I did my end of year books and found that my first year as an Approved Company had resulted in a 30% increase in turnover and 22% increase in gross profit. I think that qualifies as significant business growth!

I certainly believe that the MLA membership is a significant factor in this growth for a few reasons.  Obviously, there are the direct enquiries via the MLA website, but I think I value the networking just as much.  I do some quite specialised work and a fair amount of it comes via referrals from other MLA members who don’t offer those services.  And behind the scenes, it has just seemed easier to open trade accounts, engage with suppliers, meet sales reps etc.  This all helps offer more services, which in turn generates more revenue.

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Tell us about an interesting job you’ve done recently?

I was contacted by a bootmaker with a shop in Mayfair that has been in the same location since 1849.

They have a strong claim to being the world’s finest makers of footwear and leather goods and have a client list that includes a host of celebrities, members of royal families the world over and most notably of all, His Majesty King Charles III.

They had a number of antique display cabinets that needed locks fitting to them with a necessity that they were done in the traditional style.

Antique Display Cabinet

Antique Display Cabinet

Key in Lock with a new lock fitted to an antique cabinet

Lock cut into an antique cabinet

Cutting a lock into an immaculately maintained piece of antique furniture with shaped glass just a millimetre or two away from the tip of your chisel is not a job for the faint hearted, but I am proud to say that the end results could not have been any better.

Not for a second would I compare my own locksmith skill and experience to theirs in the field of boot making, but it was a genuine honour to be chosen for a job by a customer that understands the value of high quality workmanship and attention to detail.

It was also fascinating to see their workshops and get some time to observe the very pinnacle of a different craft.

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