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by Joan Ray
In 1957 San Clemente was a sleepy village by the sea, with a Spanish Colonial architectural style, sparsely populated coastal hills, plenty of space for parallel parking on Ave. Del Mar and Tony’s Locksmith. Today the city is bustling, the coastal hills are virtually built-out, and parking space on Ave. Del Mar is at a premium. Happily, Tony’s Locksmith is still with us.
While still a family owned business, Tony’s has changed a bit. A growing clientele and increasingly complicated programs for lock and security implementation systems have made the 2008 move to a larger facility with more parking necessary. But that is just part of the story.
More Than a Locksmith
A visit to the current location on Ave. de la Estella makes it clear that there is much more to the locksmith business than meets the eye.
Tony’s entry area offers the first surprise – there is so much to see. Need a safe, a padlock, hardware installation or access control systems, high security systems, and master key systems? One can even buy keys there; dozens of varieties. From heavy duty industrial keys to keys with images of kittens, flowers, etc - they have something for every need.
Need to replace a key? Tony’s has ten different machines for replicating virtually any type of key. If you have a favorite lock but have lost the key, Tony’s can make a new one that will work like the original.
In 1994 when Raleigh Myhren became interested in buying the business from Tony Di Giovanni’s widow, Julie, and her son-in-law, Eric Smith, Raleigh thought he should work there for a month to make sure it was a good fit. It took just a few days for him to realize he had the necessary mechanical skill … he liked working with his hands and with people. He also had a family to help him run the business. It was a perfect fit.
Raleigh’s daughter, Stacy, and her husband, Mike De Board, manage the office. She’s mastered all the intricacies of office and paper work. Billing, accounting, invoices...you name it, she can do it. Plus, she enjoys her work. “It’s obvious when you’ve successfully completed a task and that’s very satisfying,” she said.
Mike, a master locksmith, is the store manager and dispatcher. He keeps everything organized and running smoothly.
Eric Smith, now operations manager, supervises the four mobile units. When you lock your keys in the car, break the lock on your front door or face other problems that can’t be taken to the locksmith store, the locksmith will come to you. Eric and Mike try to have a locksmith technician always available in case of an emergency. Because their mobile units are now in conjunction with the physical store, someone can always be located if additional work is needed. The company website explains “All our technicians are expertly trained and provide fast and professional service 24 hour a day, 7days a week.”
Of course, consumers can take portable hardware to the store for repair and save the travel cost of in-home service. The store even has a bone-yard of parts which can be used to repair older locks or systems for a considerably lower cost.
Thanks to technological advancements, customers may be able to get a repair or replace estimate from the comfort of their own homes, just email a photo of the damaged item and your contact number or address to email@example.com.