There are times in life when all of us need to take a step back and do some self reflection. Recently, Chicago locksmith Mike Bronzell had such a moment. As Mike lay in a hospital bed fearing the worst and being given his last rites, he called me to reach out and say what I perceived to be his farewell. I explained to Mike that he did not have my permission to go anywhere and we talked into the late night. Mike was losing his liver and kidney functions and needed a transplant. As many of you well know, getting on a list for a donor and actually getting one takes long time.
As the days past along I would call my friend Mike to keep him encouraged and all I got was an voice mail. Being a realist, I feared the worst but kept the faith. I did of course not give my permission for him to fail and that means a lot, right!? After about 3 days of calling, I get a call from Mike and he sounds like a new man...sure enough he tells me that he had been given a double organ replacement in one operation!
To say Mike was lucky is an understatement and to dismiss that an angel came down upon him and took him by the hand cannot be discounted. With the holiday season upon us, I think it is fair to say Mike was blessed. I am humbled by his good fortune and along with all the members of the Society of Professional Locksmiths we wish him a long and healthy New Year with a fresh start and new outlook on life and what really matters.
Mike Bronzell is a recognized hero within the locksmiths industry and he is credited with being the driving force behind the exposure and ultimate prosecution of several locksmith scams throughout the United States. He suffered inappropriate character attacks as well as personal litigation as a result of his tenacity at bringing this issue to the forefront.
Mike is a member of the Society of Professional Locksmiths and I applaud his strength and positive attitude. The last year has been a rough ride for him and I for one wish to thank the Angel who guided him home. You helped a lot of people Mike Bronzell, and it has come back to you in the form of an Angel....now go play LOTTO!
If anyone would like to contribute to the "PENNIES FROM HEAVEN" donations to helps support Mike during his recovery, you can use this PAYPAL Donation Button . He is a single Father raising young active boys and I am sure it will help. Every little bit helps.
See links below for more information about Mike.
Today I received and email from a person who stated they would not have anything to do with the SOPL because it was associated with a locksmith dispatch scam. WOW! I thought to my self did I do something with the SOPL that I forgot to tell myself about? I don't think so! After some thought I realized this person was referring to the 1-800-UNLOCKS relationship with the SOPL.
I think it is about time the facts are presented in a blunt fashion to dispel the ignorance of those who do not do their research or get involved in their industry enough to know the facts about services within their own peer group. 1-800-UNLOCKS is a legitimate nationwide locksmith DISPATCH network. It is not a scam operation like the ones being found in the news. 1-800-UNLOCKS has been around for a long time. They had some issues in the past with some operational problems and that has been corrected a long time ago and has nothing to do with any "scams" so in fairness and to show everyone how I am not a shill for them, I will say the only thing I don't like about 1-800-UNLOCKS is their website, which by the way I have openly criticized to them.
So let see if I can help both the misinformed Locksmiths and the consumers about this service. It is a DISPATCH service which routes the consumers call DIRECTLY to the local locksmith registered in their network for the callers area. It is not a remote out of state SUB-CONTRACTED scam. What 1-800-UNLOCKS does is pre-screens real working locksmiths who chose to pay for a territory and be allowed to use the vanity number to route calls directly to their business rather then into a phone bank. So, the consumer actually gets an established locksmith in their neighborhood, not some dispatch center a 1000 miles away who sends out some guy who is 2 hours away and has no clue about the skill sets or craft of locksmithing.
So to set the records straight, 1-800-UNLOCKS works for those locksmiths who take the effort to market the vanity number in their territory because the calls come back to them and help to promote a professional franchised image without the cost of a franchise fee and the consumer is serviced professionally. To the best of my knowledge, 1-800-UNLOCKS maintains a standard of performance and if they fell a provider is not operating above board, they reserve the right to pull the territory. Do a Google search and you are not finding locksmiths registered with 1-800-UNLOCKS involved, period.
So I am completely comfortable having 1-800-UNLOCKS associated with the SOPL since they are not a scam in my opinion and others in this business who know what it is about. I actually believe that if misinformed locksmiths spend more time opening their mind to the idea of what 1-800-UNLOCKS could do to improve their image and bottom lines then they would be better off doing it. In the face of real scams that are going on, 1-800-UNLOCKS is the locksmiths secret weapon to create their own threaded cooperative network to combat these scams and recapture the call volume that has been lost to this nationwide dilemma.
It all comes down to marketing which many locksmiths are just flat out terrible at doing, and that is a subject for another days blog post.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths is "Unleashing the Beast in 2011"
As part of the initiatives I set into motion for the society, there is the "steering committee." Up until now member contributions and input came in enthusiastically by members and collated and executed by myself or our team members system administrator Harvey Arkawy of www.rabbitsoft.us. myself and Mr. Mark Hedspeth, the IT Guy and good friend.
A formal steering committee is now assembling to approach the positive demand for more of what the SOPL can do to help the locksmith community and to implement more industry involvement. This collective body will consist of recognized industry contributors, mom & pop locksmiths and just about anyone else who has the energy and creative enthusiasm to "make things happen."
The SOPL is not a dinosaur who is stuck in mud and there will be no massive grid lock in the form of a "board" where politics are played. The goal of the steering committee is to get things done and do so with rapid consensus and execution using technology along with PEER resources from within the locksmith industry.
The New Year is quickly approaching and I look forward to having this new steering committee on board and formally announced. Change is a positive thing if they implement changes to the work already put into the SOPL and it makes it better, then I look forward to my vacation!
When the SOPL first began to offer a "members area", it was available for open participation and a no cost membership. After a long period of time this opportunity ended and those professional locksmiths who signed up before the cut off date and completed their profiles now have their membership expiration date "reset" to reflect another year at no cost to them. So as the New Year roles around, you all have a fresh start to go along with those FREE training classes. As the saying goes, you snooze - you lose!
Members of the Society of Professional Locksmiths found a big Christmas gift in their in email inbox yesterday. Members who got involved in the SOPL early on were notified that their memberships were upgraded and they were enrolled into the www.securitytechnicalinstitute.com locksmith training program and proficiency testing for FREE! This membership gift makes available to these members, 67.5 C.E.U.'s towards their state licensing requirement needs. For those locksmiths who do not need continuing education credits they can utilize the course topics for their professional development needs and SOPL professional certifications. Membership has privilege.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
As the end of the year 2010 approaches with Christmas a sunrise away, I sit here and reflect on the state of the industry. In recent calls to my office I hear people saying that our industry is dead or there is nothing new or exciting. I do not believe this to be true. Hhowever, there is something amiss.
Locksmiths have always been very creative, and within our peer group we have some very interesting people with a variety of backgrounds and skills. As an industry we cannot simply rely on waiting for "others" to make something happen. It is the entrepreneurial spirit within the locksmiths that holds the key to the pulse of the industry and it always has.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL) has tapped into that spirit which is causing a fresh breeze to blow and unleashing its potential. This is our very first blog post after thousands of hours building projects to help the locksmith community, and it comes on the heel of the SOPL launching a very exciting new virtual training classroom at www.securitytechnicalinstitute.com.
It is this reason why I ponder on the idea that some are saying this is a dead industry. It is not dead, it is simply standing still for some because of failed leadership and a desire by small group to move the independent free thinking locksmiths into a conformity box. The current economy may be affecting some, but there is still great opportunities for those who dare to lean into the storm and do something about it.
Within the SOPL there is electricity in the air and a sense of excitement with a return to the free thinking spirit and independence of each individual to be a part of the pulse and work towards making things happen, rather then waiting for things to happen which never do. The only thing dead within the SOPL is apathy.
There is a storm brewing and the SOPL is alive and well.
Tom Lynch, CRL