Three years ago, Wayne Winton worked 16- to 18-hour days as a heavy-duty equipment mechanic in the Colorado oil fields. When the previous owner of Tri-County Locksmith Service in Glenwood, Colo., put his business up for sale, Winton jumped at the chance to switch careers.
“It came with 90 days of training with the owner and then he retired,” says Winton. “Sink or swim, buddy, there you go.”
After buying the business, Winton upgraded the fleet van. He sold the previous owner’s Astro van and bought a 1999 Ford E-250 with a factory-rated Quigley four-wheel drive conversion. The added traction and ground clearance helps reach clients in mountainous terrain and inclement weather.
But the biggest changes are on the inside, where Winton has built a beauty of a mobile office. “I’m in the van all day long. It would be nice to one day have an office, but right now it’s a completely mobile service.”
The buildout started with plywood lining on the floor and interior panels. Winton coated the plywood with TufDek and filled the space between the wood and metal with foam peanut insulation to regulate temperature and deaden noise.
After installing shelving cannibalized from the old van, he added more storage, a custom workbench and a cab divider. He further reinforced the heavy-duty divider with thicker L-brackets and angle iron.
“I know how much weight I roll around with, and that was pretty important to me,” says Winton. “People don’t realize that all that stuff in the back comes flying up if you come to an abrupt stop.”
His key-cutting machine is mounted to the interior of the rear door on the passenger side. When the weather allows, Winton can open the door to avoid getting brass filings inside the van.
In this organized van, the location of every tool, key blank and piece of paper is in a specific, readily accessible location. With the big pieces installed, he says, everything else fell into place. It’s the crown jewel of a rolling shop designed for maximum efficiency and utility.
“I just made it up as I went,” he says. “And if it fit, I did it, and if not, I moved it. That’s just the way I work.”
In Winton’s hands, and with support from a silent financial partner, his business has changed significantly. Seeking to reach the “apex” of the locksmith trade, he has graduated from automotive lockouts and re-keys to designing and installing custom master-key systems and high-security locks for commercial applications.
Additionally, Winton earned five-star technician status from Liberty Safe, a producer of gun safes, fire safes and home safes, and recently signed on as a dealer who sells, delivers and installs safes.
To increase his company’s branding, Winton has posted more than 700 instructional videos on his YouTube channel and Facebook page, including how to install a high security deadbolt and how to measure backset and width door measurements for door hardware.