Keeping It Safe Is the Key for Cinnaminson Company
Stay away from con artists, who thrive on emergency situations, say the folks at CLC Locksmiths.
In the early 1970s, Clarence Shafer started CLC Locksmiths out of his house. He began with the basic stuff: duplicating a key here and there, and selling some simple locks.
Shafer, a lifelong resident of Cinnaminson, first moved into a storefront office—until recently it was occupied by a printing company—in the Colonial Square Shopping Mall on Branch Pike in 1979. It was during a time when the suburban sprawl was peaking, says son Larry Shafer.
Fifteen years later, the business expanded modestly and moved next door into bigger quarters, where the locksmith business remains today.
“My dad was one of the only locksmiths around,” says Larry, 54, who received on-the-job training while he helped his dad in the store as he was growing up.
Larry and his brother Cliff Shafer, 55, now run the business, with the help of three employees.
“Don’t wait until you need a locksmith. Have good products installed, and you won’t find yourself in an emergency situation,” Larry says is the fundamental pledge he tells customers looking for locks or safes.
Most people don’t realize that a good-grade metal is paramount for a home lock.
“There is so much imported stuff in the market today. It’s too flimsy and will break after years of use,” he says.
In additional to making keys, the company specializes in all forms of digital entry pads, deadbolts and industrial locks. Surrounding the store are high-quality doorknobs and levers in a multitude of materials: brass, chrome and nickel. There is even a knob shaped like a dog’s head.
Fashionable kick plates and push plates are sold to dress up a home's front door.
The showroom also boasts bike locks, door viewers and keyless entry pads. Shafer says about 80 percent of the business is commercial, with a large concentration executed with local banks.
“We don’t do their safes, but we set up their master key systems,” says Larry.
Churches, restaurants, retailers, and schools are other typical industries they work with.
Larry says the company received the wall-hung honorary plaque from the Riverton Yacht Club that welcomes visitors after the historic sailing organization was restored about five years ago.
“We put all of the locks, hardware and hinges in place throughout the building, so they more or less made us members,” he says.
The family-run business sells commercial and residential safes, that should always be bolted to the floor or ground, says Larry, who still lives in Cinnamison.
“Most of our commercial safes have a depository or roll top, making it easier to make a drop,” he adds.
A bulk of their business has always been the person who locks their keys inside their car or house, commonly referred to as lockouts by those in the business. Larry says there are a swarm of companies that are scamming the public by inflating a quote after a job is completed.
“They set up a phony business number and thrive on people in a jam,” says Larry. “Over the phone, you’re quoted one price. But after they do the job, they bump up the price, and they won’t give you your keys until you pay. It’s a real industry problem.”
Over the years, the brothers have tried to stay unique and on top of the newest types of locks, safes and accessories.
When asked about their success as a small business, Larry says candidly: “We just try to deliver old-fashioned personal service. Customers will keep coming back if they trust you.”