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An Inside Look - An interview with some of the LSI employees!

June, 2008

ERIC ELKINS, General Manager

Q: As a former innovator for the DoD, what made you choose LSI?

Eric: What made me? It's the integrity of this organization. And it was probably the influence of Clay Miller and my relationship with him and the trust that we'd developed over the past 15 years.

Q: Had you worked with LSI prior to coming here?

Eric: I guess you would say we worked together, through the Department of Defense and we had a lot of the people that were part of our program that came here for training. Because of the excellence of training at LSI and what I saw at that time and because of the outstanding facility. The training, the learning environment here is far superior to anything I've ever seen in this industry or really any other related industry. It's just a great environment. And the attitude of the people here and the expertise of the people that are conducting the training.

Q: How would you compare LSI to some of the other schools, Colleges or training facilities?

Eric: This is a specialized area of training. Most of what we offer is very specialized. There are very few training facilities that offer what we have. The feedback that I've gotten from people throughout the government is that this is the premier training facility. If your going to spend a week or two weeks somewhere, then this is far superior than anything else that I've seen.

Q: Where do you see LSI headed, or it's place in the future?

Eric: I think our training is expanding into different markets. Were certainly going to be the premier training facility for the new mandated training that's going to be required for all of the locksmiths and technicians that are working in DoD facilities on their GSA approved equipment. So our training here and in the field is going to expand significantly once that gets started. Also, were looking at increasing our law enforcement training. The R & D side of our business continues to do very well.

Q; Although much of LSI training is government required, a big majority are here by choice. Is there a major area of study for those individuals and why choose us for it?

Eric: Well, Lockmasters and LSI, is an icon in the industry and it's known as the base training facility. If you look at the history of Clay Miller and his father, Harry Miller and his father, John Miller, that the Miller family has been providing service to the United States government for over 50 years. The history and the expertise is there, and the integrity and trust within this organization is there.

Q; With the state of affairs in the U.S. and abroad, what are some of the benefits to having a good physical or technical security education?

Eric: It's essential to have people in the field that are working directly for our government or supporting agencies to understand security and security practices and procedures and what equipment does for you. On the opposing side, what it will not do for you and that's what we're providing to people that are protecting our most valuable assets for this country. Number one, the security of personnel. That's where the term forced protection originated at. It was forced protection for the men and women in our military, here and overseas that are dedicated to the service of our country. It's important that they understand and are dilligent in the security practices that they employ within the companies that they work for.

Q: Why does LSI say "For those with a need to know"?

Eric: Well, a need to know, it's exactly what it says. There are certain techniques and practices that come with any area of employment that your in, that are important within your industry. Certainly within this industry it's critical that we have people that have expertise in locking systems and security. There are a lot of those areas that the common person on the street really doesn't have a need to know, or there's not a reason for them to know it. Then there is the security side of it which security policy clearly lays out. What the security levels are of certain types of information and if your working in that area you need to know it, if you're not, you don't! Were very selective with who we train or allow to have the skill that LSI offers.

SHELLY WHITAKER

Q; Although much of LSI training is government required, a big majority are here by choice. Is there a major area of study for those individuals and why choose us for it?

Shelly: Professional Locksmithing. We get people from all around the world for those classes. We just had some very nice people here from Italy.

Q: Is the Locksmith industry different outside of the U.S.?

Shelly: Yes, different types of locks. They come here for the hands-on basics and then they go back and become more advanced on their own with that foundation, self study. Our instructors are also skilled in many foreign locks and mechanisms.

Q: Obviously a persons salary might increase greatly with the knowledge and skills LSI supplies. Is there a particular area for greater advancement now, in 2008?

Shelly: Through our programs with the college, you can earn a college certificate which always helps advance your career and your paycheck, but it may also help you to break into an area of your field that you hadn't had the opportunity for before. That could be either technical or physical security and not just this year.

Q; Are there a lot of universities that teach anything on LSI's level.

Shelly: There are a few that teach somewhat similar security based classes, but I don't know of any that teach locksmithing or the safe classes that we offer. Also most of our classes are more specialized and hands-on instead of theoretical or book related.

Q: Does your department find it difficult to track such a large number of students in such a secure environment.

Shelly: Not at all, our software allows us to be extremely accurate and secure. That in combination with a paper trail and all of the security measures in place in the building and storage containers and access control... no, not a problem. If you have a badge, all the codes, get past the alarms, then you need passwords, keys...Then if you ask me nicely and you have clearance, you might get what your looking for!

Q: Is this a fun place to work?

Shelly: Yes, good people to work with and you get to meet people from everywhere.

BARBARA CRAYCRAFT

Q: Tell me a bit about the Lock Collection.

Barb: It began probably in the late 40's, as a collection of Harry Miller. Harry at one time owned Sergeant & Greenleaf, then started Lockmasters in the 50's and collecting was just a lifelong endeavor.

Q: I understand the lock collection continues to grow?

Barb: Yes, it's an ongoing process and we've recently added thousands in a broad range of lock types.

Q: What's included in the tour.

Barb: Most generally it's self-guided. But I'm always happy to answer any questions they may have. The oldest locks, how was the piece acquired, etc.

Q: Did you know Mr. Miller?

Barb: Yes, I worked for him for many years. He was just a person that you immediately felt close to. He was genuinely kind, considerate and grateful for any kindness that was done for him. He was an innovator in this industry. Locksmithing was always a very close to the heart business for him. At the time, there were very few people knew that what he did about Locksmithing and they weren't willing to share that knowledge. Mr. Miller changed all that with the opening of Lockmasters to allow anyone who needed to know, to learn directly from him. He invented, and held the patents on a great many locks as well and was referred to as the Father of manipulation. I think that's why Locksmithing can be considered a good profession now, with all the education that's available that started with him.

Q: How many students are out there that he taught.

Barb: From the time that I'd know him, he touched many lives. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands. One of his most endearing traits was that if he saw potential in a person, he would make all the tools available for you to become a success. His son Clay is the same in that and many other respects.

Q: Tell me about Clay Miller, LSI's President.

Barb: Well, Harry Miller was one of the hardest working people you'll ever try to keep up with and he instilled those traits in his children. They were always exposed to the workforce at S & G and they grew up in the factory. He just believed in teaching his children how to work. Clay is just like that, a hard worker and hard to keep up with. And he loves the industry and loves to share the knowledge. I feel if a young person were willing to work hard and be a part of the industry, I feel assured that Clay would put all the tools at their disposal.

RYAN GRIFFETH

Q: How does LSI's store compare to some of the other companies in the security products field?

Ryan: Well, currently we're in the process of streamlining it to make it the premier online store. Currently we have a limited product selection, but we carry some pretty unique products as well as all the common tools for Locksmithing. What sets us apart is that we have the direct knowledge base to what works and what doesn't. We have first hand exposure to the technicians and security professionals that are in the field and they provide us feedback on a daily basis. That helps put us in a very advantageous position for innovation and product selection. Between the instructors and students, we get great feedback on what to carry in the store here as well. Here in the LSI Store we assemble supplies in custom tailored kit form for all the classes. That's a very broad range of tools and supplies that have to be in stock all the time, and those same tools would be used in an actual job or position. You can also buy LSI branded clothing and other products in the store while your at the Museum.

 

 

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