The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Vincent Chestnut

 What are you really into right now?

Locksmithing seems like an all-consuming job now. I’d like to have some time to go fishing. I’ve got two kayaks in the backyard I haven’t touched in two years.

Vincent Chestnut


 Can you explain what your current job is?

I rekey locks. When people move into a new house, they want to get the locks rekeyed … so the old key no longer works. I also do this for stores and businesses when they have a personnel change. I also do installations, where people need extra security someplace. So I try to provide the appropriate levels of security that they need, whether it be a key and a knob, a deadbolt, a panic device or a door closer. I try to handle the whole door opening as a security issue.
How long have you worked there?
Only 27 years. There was a person who hired me and trained me, and a year later he sold me the business. 
How did you get interested in this field?
Basically I had an introduction in the Air Force, where I had multiple locations and I got a set of padlocks that were master keyed. So each padlock had its own individual key that I could issue to somebody so they could get into a particular location, but I still had the master key for all the padlocks so I could get in when I wanted to. You learn how to do that, and [there are] classes for all that. That’s what I do with a lot of inns and businesses where they have a lot of employees but they don’t want all their employees to go into the cash room, for instance.
What kind of education or training did you need for this job?
I learned by apprenticeship. I was on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, and the [Massachusetts Locksmith Association] only had a monthly meeting, and sometimes they had classes. ... Some of my distributors did offer classes for free. 
How did you find your current job?
I started out on Martha’s Vineyard, where I became a member of the Massachusetts Locksmith Association, and I was actually president of the association from 2000 to 2001. [In 2007] my wife and I moved up to New Hampshire, because she grew up in Kingston and wanted to be with her family [and I found this job].
What’s the best piece of work-related advice anyone’s ever given you?
Treat every customer respectfully. … We had a lot of big-name people [on Martha’s Vineyard], and I would try to treat them as a regular customer instead of being “Aw gee, this is Michael J. Fox,” for instance. 
What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?
How much fun I would have. I think it’s a wonderful profession. Actually, Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “If I had only known, I would have become a locksmith.” 
What is your typical at-work uniform?
I do have a polo shirt with my name and my company name on it. If I’m wearing a jacket, it will have my name and my company name on it. Because when I come up to somebody’s front door at their house, they can at least see the name on it so they know who it is that’s walking up to their front door. I don’t want to be a stranger to them. 
What was the first job you ever had?
Probably when I joined the Air Force, back in the ’60s. My classification was 1A, and I didn’t want to get drafted into the Army or the Marines, so I joined the Air Force. It still didn’t stop me from being sent to Vietnam. I still managed to get there.
— Scott Murphy 

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