MLA trade exhibition proves to be “the best yet”

The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) has reported record attendance at its trade exhibition for the locksmithing and physical security industry.

The bi-annual event, which was staged earlier this month in Halls 1 & 2 of the International Centre in Telford, had a footfall of 2,309 visitors – 50.3% up on the previous expo in 2015.

In addition, 393 staff from 106 exhibitors from all over the world, including China, Russia and New Zealand were also at the event to showcase the latest security products and services, as well as having a chance to discuss industry trends and take part in training courses.

The attendance figures, provided by third party visitor registration company QRS, show that MLA Expo, which was being held for the 19th time, was not only the biggest and most successful MLA Expo since it was first held 35 years ago, but, according to some visitors is now the largest trade exhibition for the locksmithing industry in the world.

MLA Managing Director Dr Steffan George said: “We were expecting Expo to be big; having taken the step of expanding in to 2 halls we were delighted with the number of exhibitors who signed up seeing the show completely sold out. The key however is of course getting visitors there, and with 700 visitors walking through the doors within the first 3 hours of the show being open, we were ecstatic to get excellent feedback from exhibitors who couldn’t believe how busy the show was.

“Joining up with our colleagues at the Auto Locksmiths Association (ALA) and creating “The Garage”; the area dedicated to auto locksmithing where all auto related suppliers were based seemed to work really well.

“Class leading training continued to be available at the show and will no doubt have attracted a lot of people to visit. Training at this year’s event included safe lock picking, lock decoding and picking, social media marketing, “how to think like a burglar” (to improve surveying skills), vehicle locks & cloning, electronics, access control and abrasive wheel certification to name but a few.

“MLA Expo is a truly global exhibition involving people from across the wider locksmithing industry, and that was proved once again. Total overseas visitor numbers almost doubled, splitting this down further, just over 90% more visitors came from Europe as did in 2015. It provides a fantastic opportunity for locksmith and security companies and professionals from around the world to come together, network and find out about the latest innovations in the industry. It is the perfect occasion for manufacturers and suppliers to showcase their products and services, network, share knowledge and make new contacts.

“Feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike was phenomenal, with a number commenting on how it had been their best show ever. This sort of feedback makes all the hard work involved in putting the show together worthwhile. We’d like to thank all the exhibitors, Expo sponsors Brisant Secure, Garage Sponsors Silca, our friends and colleagues at the ALA, all the tutors and most of all everyone who visited. We look forward to announcing details for MLA Expo ’19 shortly.”

3 awards were given out at the MLA Expo; Best Stand was won by APECS, Most Creative Stand was won by Burg Wächter whilst Best Product was won by Sashstop, as judged by MLA board members who are working locksmiths. Our heartfelt congratulations go to them all on their well-deserved win.

The event also saw a Gala Dinner arranged by MLA Board Member Terry Watts on the
Saturday night, with a mix of a pre-dinner drinks reception, excellent food and entertainment with a great time being had by all.

The MLA’s charity raffle also took place with prizes very kindly donated by Brisant Secure, Aldridge Security, ABUS, Abloy, Burton Safes and Keyprint. Thanks to them and the generosity of those in attendance £3100 was raised for the charity of choice of the event which was Cancer Research. Pictures can be found below of the prize donors getting their certificate of recognition.

Numerous Industry awards were also given out at the dinner. Firstly the ALA gave a special award to Tim Hart in recognition for all the work he put in to help with the event. Ron Cliff was next up being awarded honorary membership of the MLA thanks to his significant contribution to the association over the years. Sid Owen was then announced as the winner of the Nigel Rose Bowl due to him having had the best BLI Exam results during the previous year. The final award was the Chubb Award; this most prestigious and well recognised award within the industry is bestowed by the board of directors of the MLA on the person they feel has done the most to further the locksmithing profession in the previous year. The recipient in 2017 was John Harding, somebody who has not only served as a board director of both the MLA and Sold Secure, but is current secretary of MLA London Region and has toured the country training on the vital H&S aspects of working with abrasive wheels.

UNION launches FastLatch

UNION, part of ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions, a division of ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in door opening solutions, has launched the FastLatch, a new range of push fit tubular latches and privacy bolts.

Designed with a stylish and modern appearance for interior doors, FastLatch is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to install due to its revolutionary round forend, reducing installation time and offering a professional finish.

Available in a choice of three high quality finishes – polished chrome, polished brass and satin nickel, FastLatch is supplied with both round and square corner strike options, enabling a quick and simple installation or retrofit.

FastLatch has been tested to 800,000 closing cycles, to ensure it lasts for decades of residential use, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

Karen Hubbard, Mortice ­Product Manager at ASSA ABLOY Security Solutions, said: “FastLatch is a perfect fit for modern living, offering a stylish finish for interior doors. As well as meeting aesthetic needs, the FastLatch is simple to install, saving time for installers. FastLatch represents the quality, reliability and ease of installation that is expected of a UNION product.”

For further information, please visit www.uniononline.co.uk/fastlatch or contact the UNION sales team on 0845 223 2124. You can also like UNION’s Facebook page or follow on Twitter.

Digital Marketing a Locksmith Business

Our focus in this article is what you can do to give your locksmith business a boost through digital marketing, which will produce enquiries in the short and long term.

We’ll start with the pros and cons of pay per click – Google AdWords & BING Ads. The biggest attraction to this form of advertising is the instant results that you can achieve. A well-structured campaign, given the right level of attention and optimisation can produce an instant hit, but as many locksmiths also discover, this form of advertising can be extremely competitive. To some, pay per click can be an unsustainable advertising platform due to the highly competitive nature of other advertisers. Click fraud can also be an issue, this is where competitors click on each other’s ads to inflate their spend – Click Guardian Pro is an imperative digital tool for any locksmith trying to get the best from Google AdWords as it protects against this budget busting activity. To summarise, pay per click is great for instant results but expect it to be highly competitive.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a much more in-depth subject than pay per click but arguably offers a more sustainable approach to being found online over the medium to long term. SEO is all about getting everything right in a bid to influence the way in which Google ranks your web site in their organic results. Over the years many web site owners have suffered from Google’s algorithm updates, which have completely reshuffled the positions they had, often in a very sudden way. This has led to business owners having to revaluate the way in which they try to optimise in an effort to do everything by the book. Those who perform what’s known as ‘Black Hat SEO’ may get a short term gain but as soon as Google identify their techniques will often ban them from ranking well indefinitely. Black Hat SEO is where a web site owner tries underhand tactics to boost their site’s popularity, effectively they try to cheat Google’s algorithm. The reverse term is White Hat SEO – this is the only ‘right’ way to get your web site ranked highly and also considered the only way you’ll be able to sustain a high position.

So, what are considered the best top tips for White Hat SEO in 2017 so far?

1. Cloudflare – this is a combination of a content distribution network and DNS caching. This technical combination helps render your web site quickly in the browsers of your visitors. Page loading times are absolutely imperative and if you’re serious about getting ahead of your competitors then this is definitely for you!
2. Applying an SSL certificate may be another tricky one to initially install but it’s become apparent over the last 12 months that this is a small ranking signal which is set to become stronger at Google. Whether the website collects personal information or not, Google will reward sites with SSL Certificates with a boost in search ranking.
3. Having a mobile friendly web site is now an absolute must. Not only is this hugely important for SEO but as a locksmith, the majority of your visitors will be searching from mobile devices.
4. You’ve probably heard the term ‘content is King’. This couldn’t be more accurate in today’s SEO landscape. It may seem obvious but content is absolutely vital in getting your message across and Google reward web sites that have quality content in terms of volume and uniqueness over sites that have a couple of paragraphs, duplicated from site to site! In fact duplicate content is just as harmful as no content!
5. If you’ve got an aging web site then you may have a poor navigation. Not only will your visitors struggle to navigate around your web site but Google have crawlers that identify poor navigation and missing pages, commonly known as 404’s. It’s not difficult to identify with the right SEO tools – this is a commonly overlooked area of SEO which is becoming more important. A top tip is to visit your own web site on a desktop and a mobile device and simply navigate. Any errors should be corrected and Google updated through a sitemap connected to Google Webmaster Tools.

Breakthrough in parcel delivery box design

A startup company called Brizebox is making sure online shoppers receive their orders when not at home. They have designed a simple Parcel Delivery Box that requires minimum courier intervention, keeps parcels totally secure and continues to receive parcels until full.

Brizebox has hit the ground running and their products are available in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada with Australia and New Zealand to follow soon.

Their products come in three sizes and are the first to be adaptable for use in apartments.

brizebox.com.

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Lockex 2016 supports Pilgrim Bandits charity

With many ex-service people choosing security and locksmithing as their second career when they retire from the armed forces, organisers of Lockex, the pioneering new exhibition for locksmiths and auto-locksmiths, has nominated Pilgrim Bandits Charity www.pilgrimbandits.org  as its chosen charity when the show debuts at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, next month from 16th to 18th September.

logoHosted by the locksmith industry’s leading trade magazine, The Locksmith Journal, part of Clearview Group, the show has been designed to deliver exactly what locksmiths want to do and see at an exhibition, based on research carried out with the magazine’s readership. Exhibitors from an array of renowned industry suppliers will be representing hardware and security, along with an extensive programme of workshops and seminars presented by industry experts.

Lockex Director, Rob Exley, was first introduced to Pilgrim Bandits Charity when he attended a local music event in aid of the charity. Pilgrim Bandits Charity was established by a small group of Special Forces veterans in 2007 with the sole aim of using their unique training and experience to help and inspire wounded soldiers to live life to the full. The charity funds extreme expeditions for amputees from the armed forces and emergency services and then shares experiences with underprivileged young people.

Following a conversation with the charity’s patron, Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson MBE, who is reputed to be the most severely injured soldier ever to survive when his WIMIK Land Rover detonated an anti-tank mine in Afghanistan, Rob and the Lockex organisers felt it was a natural step to support Pilgrim Bandits Charity at the show when it premieres next month.

Rob said: “Many of the locksmiths that read The Locksmith Journal, and who will be attending Lockex, are ex-service people. The work that Pilgrim Bandits Charity do to rehabilitate and inspire really resonated with me. We have invited them to come to the show and we hope our exhibitors and visitors will join us in supporting this very worthy cause.”

Lockex 2016 [Dates] - PASSTo visit the show and book your place at one of the workshops register at: https://lockex.eventsair.com/lockex/visitor/Site/Register. The first 1,500 people to register will be entitled to a free £5 lunch voucher and bacon sandwich.