FAIRFIELD — If you need a new key, Sammy Lam of Fairfield Safe & Lock has more than 1,500 different types to choose from, covering an entire wall of his small shop on Missouri Street.
If you have a broken lock, no matter how old, Lam is very likely to have the part, know how to get his hands on it, or is willing to try to fabricate the needed part.
“It is very rewarding to help people out,” Lam said.
Fairfield Safe & Lock Company was established by Gene Smith after he retired from the Solano County Sheriff’s Office and was initially run out of his home, according to Lam.
Not long after, Smith moved the business into the building at 811 Missouri St., where it has been since. Lam took on managing the business from Smith in 1978 and has been serving the safe and lock needs of Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville and Travis since.
Lam and his small staff of employees are on call around the clock, and have been known to respond to calls for help as far away as Vallejo and Dixon.
Lam himself got his start as a locksmith when he was in college in Berkeley. Lam began his business here with one other employee and now has four employees. While there are other locksmiths in Fairfield, Lam is the only bonded locksmith who has a brick-and-mortar store.
The basics of the business are pretty much the same as when Lam started – repairing locks and safes for businesses and homes, selling keys to people to replace old ones, and selling locks.
The majority of his work is repairing locks, changing combinations and rekeying houses. Even with the continuing advance of technology in security devices, Lam said that there are still a lot of the physical lock-and-key systems out there that still need to be maintained and repaired.
“It is still pretty basic. People still need locks on their homes,” Lam said.
Lam and his employees do a lot of traveling to their customers and at least one of them is on-call no matter the time. The store is open six days a week, closing only on Sunday, according to Lam.
Most of his business is due to word of mouth and repeat customers “and people who look me up in the phone book,” Lam said.
Lam said that consistent good quality service is the secret of his business’ longevity and he sees the future of his business as continuing to provide that quality service.
“It is an interesting business. You meet a lot of people. You need patience and you need to enjoy helping people,” Lam said.
When Laurie Armstrong of Vacaville found out her house keys were stolen in Sacramento, she called Fairfield Safe & Lock at 11 p.m. “and they had someone at my house within a half an hour.” Armstrong said the service was a little pricey, but when it comes to getting a job done immediately, Lam and his staff were on the case.
Ronald Larsen of Suisun City said that he has had more than a few keys replaced at Lam’s shop. He remembers hearing about a friend who needed a glovebox lock from a 1984 car fixed, and Lam was able to get a salvaged lock from an auto wrecking yard. Lam replaced the broken mechanism from the old lock with the still-working part from the salvaged one, Larsen said.
“He does good work and is able to find a viable solution to whatever your problem is,” Larsen said. “He is also always very friendly.”
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.