Sellers Lock & Key opens in Austin

Published 10:17 am Thursday, August 7, 2008

A perfect fit is something Jeff Sellers can appreciate.

A locksmith by trade, Sellers founded his businesses, Sellers Lock & Key, after a year and a half of hard work and several fortuitous events, including the sale of his house, the birth of his daughter and the purchase of dozens of pieces of equipment, most at heavily discounted prices.

“The last year has worked out well for us,” he said.

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And, thus, opened a fateful door.

Sellers entered the industry three years ago following massive nationwide layoffs at the Rochester-based retail store he worked.

Looking for a vocation, he began coursework for locksmithing through a Kansas City, Mo., training program; he felt the work would suit him, both intellectually and physically.

“It’s the allure of being a locksmith, and I like working with my hands and fixing things,” he said, also recalling how, like many children, he’d appreciated the ability to enter places seemingly prohibited.

Plus, it provided the escape from work he didn’t desire anymore.

“I wanted to get out of retail management, and I wanted to get out of

corporate America,” he said.

Following his graduation, Sellers was hired by Bowman Safe and Lock, of Rochester, where he applied his studies across a variety of sectors: residential, automotive and commercial.

“Bowman’s is a jack-of-all-trades locksmith, and that’s what I’ve been trained to be,” he said. “I just do whatever needs to be done.”

He was also offered mentorship from the late founder of the 45-year-old business — Don Bowman — who warmed to him once he realized his work ethic and drive to learn.

“He taught me a lot of different things, and a lot of different ways of looking at things,” he said, adding, “He took to heart that I really had a passion for it.”

That spirit would keep him at Bowman for three years, the latter part of which he began researching how to take his trade independent in an industry that’s extremely competitive and often specialized.

“This is a field that’s really hard to get into,” he said.

Not that the challenge was a deterrent.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to own your own business, and being your own boss,” he said.

Launched on the last days of June — his house closed June 26 — Sellers owns a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week home-based enterprise, outfitted to provide services for a smorgasbord of commercial, residential and automotive needs.

Among them are locks, master key systems, key duplicates, safe combination changes, transponder key programming and emergency response. Sellers said he combs much of the southeast Minnesota and northern Iowa region, from Winona to Mankato and Faribault to Mason City, Iowa.

And he’s eager to serve.

“I’ve got the experience and the knowledge, and I’ve run businesses in the past for major corporations,” he said. “And now I get to do it for my family.”

Sellers Lock & Key is located at 704 19th St. S.W. in Austin. For more information, call 433-2787.