Dave Fairbrother had been offered a veterans’ educational benefit in 1974. Although he was married with two children and starting a career as an electronics technician, he didn’t want to bypass the chance for free education. After looking into several options that might result in some part-time income, he came across an advertisement for The Foley-Belsaw Institute. The correspondence school offered education in several skills, including locksmithing.

What began as a sidelight for Fairbrother grew quickly—so quickly that, in five years, he was bringing home more money through locksmithing than at his full-time job. Fairbrother was able to turn this blessing into early retirement and devote himself full-time to A Good Locksmith.

Some of A Good Locksmith’s more visible accounts have included FedEx, the City of Milwaukee impound lot (for more than 15 years), fast-food chains, U.S. military offices and a restaurant and clothing store owned by former Green Bay Packers stars Brett Favre and Reggie White, respectively. Anchors Away Travel in Milwaukee has employed A Good Locksmith for more than 30 years.

The business was built on honesty and dependability but sustained through knowledge. Fairbrother regularly attends seminars on various aspects of locksmithing and is a regular contributor to and reader of Internet forums and other websites, including clearstar.com. More than 30 years in the business certainly counts for something as well.

What Dave Fairbrother says:

About getting into locksmithing in 1974: “God gave me the gift of being mechanically adept, to be able to look at something I’ve never seen before and be able to take it apart and put it back together again. I finished the entire correspondence course in three weeks. They later told me my scores ranked in the top 5 percent of any student who had ever finished that course.”

About his stroke in 2001: “While I was recovering, I invented a tool that would allow me to pick a lock with one hand.”

About why his business has grown: “The more experience you have, the faster you can finish a job, and the more professional it can be. When you give people those things, they’ll tell their friends. A good reputation multiplies. I’ve always believed that.”