Back to School with America’s Manufacturers, v.4

By September 8, 2005General

Back to School with America's ManufacturersWhat student could survive without their school lockers and the locks that keep those valuables (like tuna fish sandwiches and pictures of boy bands) secure? For that, we turn to the world’s largest padlock manufacturer, Milwaukee, Wis.-based Master Lock, a subsidiary of Fortune Brands.

In 1919, locksmith and inventor Harry Soref had a thought: why not make padlocks the same way as bank vault doors? In his day, most padlocks were hollow and could be easily broken by a hammer or similar physical abuse.

It was originally Harry’s idea to sell this improved padlock to a hardware manufacturing company. However, the number of parts and production steps needed in the original designs and prototypes appalled the engineers, patent attorneys and manufacturers that he showed. None of these old time lock or hardware companies wanted any part of Harry’s revolutionary idea.

Soref took the rejection of his product in stride and, despite the lack of money, equipment and size, proceeded with his idea and began production in a one-room Milwaukee factory with five employees. His product quickly turned out to be significantly better than anything else on the market with his locks being sought out by the U.S. government who purchased them to lock up alcohol during Prohibition.

In both World War I and II, Mr. Soref served as a security consultant to the armed services and in 1925, when escape artist Harry Houdini failed to escape a sheriff’s handcuffs he sought the advice of Soref to figure out a way to hide keys under tongue and between fingers.

Today, Master Lock is recognized around the world as the solid, enduring name in padlocks and security products. They sell approximately 50-million locks each year and dominate the school locker lock business and are ranked number one by consumers as the best padlock brand. All Master Lock padlocks are individually tested for quality and come with a full lifetime guarantee.

Watch this space tomorrow for our final installment of “Back to School with America’s Manufacturers.”