Gary Lekan: Locked In
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
LOS ALTOS – While many people enter a professional field with full intention, for some, the catalyst of a lifelong career emerges from a completely chance occurrence. When asked how he became a locksmith, Gary Lekan relates just such an account. “I broke the key off in my car’s ignition, so I took it to a local locksmith shop where a friend of mine was working. There was a long line of customers, so he handed me a couple little extraction tools and gave me a quick rundown on what to do. Within a couple of minutes, I got the key out and handed the tools back to my friend. He was impressed by my promptness and said, ‘You might be good at this!’ That was the beginning of what has been an interesting career to say the least!” Today, nearly 40 years later, Gary continues to impress as owner of First Lock & Security Technologies.
Originally from Chicago, Gary moved to the Bay Area when, just a year into his locksmith career, his employer made the impulsive decision to move the business west. “I had just been out to visit my brother-in-law, who was attending Stanford, and I really fell in love with the Bay Area,” he remembers. “When I returned to Chicago, my boss came up with an idea to move the business out to California. Within four months, I was back on the West Coast.” Almost four decades later, Gary still appreciates the attributes that first attracted him to the Bay Area. “The hills, the ocean, the year-round greenery—there’s just so much beauty around here and I absolutely love it.”
In his life and career, Gary espouses the value of integrity as the key to happiness. “Rather than taking the easy way out of hard situations, you have to take the time to patiently work through your problems,” he says. “Life has its ups and downs, but if you live with integrity, you’re likely to come out on top in the end.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Gary says he would employ his expertise to help educate others in his trade. “I would like to start a locksmith school. There’s a lot of demand for qualified locksmiths these days, and I enjoy passing on my knowledge.” However, he says retirement wouldn’t be all work and no play. “I’d definitely try to do more of the things I love. I’d go on more ski trips, play more golf and spend more time working in my garden.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: The Band.
Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The saxophone.
Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Napoletana Pizzeria in Mountain View.
Q: Do you do any celebrity impressions?
A: I used to do Louis Armstrong when I was a kid.
Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Cherries jubilee.
Q: What’s the most memorable situation you’ve encountered on the job?
A: I was changing the locks at this guy’s house, when all of a sudden he brings out an armful of two-by-fours and says, “OK, I need you to help me barricade these doors. My wife is coming with the police and they’ll be here any minute.” I said, “I don’t think so, you’re on your own!” and got out of there as fast as I could!
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