Simon Centennial


We are all familiar with the expression, "time goes by fast when you're having fun."   For the SIMON FAMILY, this year, 2015, marks another anniversary in the lock and hardware business their family's 128th year in the industry!
Joseph Simon came to Chicago in 1887, establishing a direct account with the Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company.  Traveling from door to door, he sold his wares and services on the south side of Chicago.  Locksmithing in those days consisted of not only repairing, installing, selling and servicing, but it actually included designing and making locks for various installations.  In 1890, he opened a store and established additional trade accounts with Barrows, Clinton, P&F Corbin, Lockwood, Russell & Erwin (Russwin), Sager and Sargent Lock Company, as well as others that were in business at that time. Joseph Simon was one of the first locksmiths to devise what is known today as the impression system on the pin tumbler locks.

Around 1918 his son Harry Simon began building a locksmith service corps undreamed of in the modern world.  Adding to the list of manufacturers with which his father had established accounts, Harry was one of the founding distributors of what was then known as the Independent Lock Company.  In addition to inventing and patenting many of the tools, key machines, cylinder guards and products used today, he assisted firms such as the Francis Keil Lock Company in the invention of the automatic key machine. During the great depression in the 1930's,  Harry's input into the field continued to grow, and the business right along with it. 

During the great depression in the 1930's, he invented the first lock picks for the tubular locks shortly after it was introduced.  Key machines were designed and made to duplicate as well as to originate tubular and the Mills (Bell) keys.  Harry devised innovations such as maintaining original cut keys for all mailboxes, Chicago, Junkunc, Illinois locks, and even bit keys which were still popular during that time.  (See the end of this for several of his inventions)

After World War II, he purchased the building in which his father had originally started.  The lock and door closer shop operated out an area of 13,500 square feet.  The retail

store was dominated by several large key boards.  One of them was a board measuring 8' x 24' and contained close to 900,000 cylinder key blanks spaced 2" apart.  Another two boards measuring 4' x 16' each contained flat steel and bit keys.  To handle the volume of almost a million duplicate keys a year, Harry had 28 key machines in operation with an average of six to seven employees full time to operate them!

The late 40's Harry's sons Gene and Laurence (Laurie) joined him. This period witnessed a movement toward wholesaling and manufacturing for the trade as well as several major manufacturers.  During this period of time, Harry invented and patented several key machines including the First Key Machine, which was capable of producing a key from a cylinder within fifteen seconds, far more accurately than an original.  Cylinder guards and electric key switches were also among Harry's patents.  Uniquely, he engineered, designed, and manufactured all of the necessary tools for the door closer field for various manufacturers who produced door closer's, and those who were in the business of repairing them. Mr. Leonard Singer, founder and editor of the Locksmith Ledger stated publicly, "in all my travels, S&S was the largest Locksmith operation in the world."

When Harry's sons Gene, Laurie and Martin returned from the armed forces, the combined efforts of the three generations moved the company into the Locksmith Supply, both new Construction and Retrofit Architectural Hardware and the Hollow Metal field.  During that period of time, they were responsible for some of the largest lock and hardware replacement programs at major hospitals, hotels and institutions in and around Chicago.  The company furnished many of the major architectural hardware projects for a large number of the city's finest most prestigious buildings that dot Lake Shore Drive and in the city's "loop."

Gene's specialty was not only the lock & hardware field, but in the ability to manage and direct a large organization in a field  where most lock  and   hardware firms were small.   New innovated programs, administrative procedures inventory control systems, advertising and marketing.  He created systems for expediting the many service

vehicles which were part of the service company, were created by him. After WW II, Harry had installed a switchboard with one person to handle seven incoming phone lines.  Gene went one step further by installing a call director system whereby anyone in the shop could answer an incoming call and if necessary,  switch  it  over to  another person. He also spent many hours in ensuring that he knew products and what they applied to.


Martin was responsible for several major changes.  In the retail store he added color and brightness by changing the 8' x 24' key board from black to a warm green, and added other small but important things to make the customers feel comfortable, warm and wanted.  Frequently there was up to a dozen people waiting.  That was when he put in a " take a number " for better service.  Marty was also responsible for separating the retail from the wholesale by opening up a completely separate operation near the Chicago downtown area.  Laurie left the family business in 1963 for a period of seven years opening up an Architectural Hardware Operation downtown Chicago and returned to S&S in 1971.


Laurie, using the vast knowledge taught to him by his father and grandfather,  specialized in sales of both architectural hardware and retrofit projects, and engineered new both mechanical and electromechanical locking devices, tools and door closer's.  Many of the currently manufactured products on the market today have had his input.  In 1971, Laurie, along with the assistance of the head of one of the largest universities in the country, programmed a computer to create master key systems which were impossible to do by hand.  The computer required the identity of the manufacturer of the cylinders, the keyways, physical constraints, amount of pins and even the approximate age of the cylinder.  All of this data, when fed into the computer, virtually eliminated any and all uncontrolled interchange, phantom (ghost) and cross keying.

In the mid 70's, a decision was made between Gene and Laurie to sell the retail store to several of their employees.  Both Gene and Laurie wanted to share their knowledge of the industry with others, and to support this, entered into the field of Manufacturers Representatives.  At present, Gene is operating in the Midwest representing lock and hardware firms. Laurie selected to relocate in Texas, an area in the United States which was expanding and offered many new opportunities.  Laurie operates his firm, H&L Simon Company, in Richardson (Dallas), Texas, also represents firms in the Lock Hardware industry and is a consultant for a major manufacturer of keys and associated products.

He has also served as a consultant to several major manufacturer of Architectural Hardware.  The opportunity afforded in those early years of having a distributorship of all of the manufacturers in the industry has continued to benefit both Laurie and of his customers.  Under the name of Dalax, Inc., he is publishing computerized cross references covering more than ninety of the major manufacturers in the industry and products from locks and related products, panic exit devices, keys, keyways and hinges.
One Hundred some odd years is really nothing when you really enjoy what you are doing, say the SIMON'S.
The SIMON's continue looking forward to the second hundred years with the same gusto and enthusiasm that brought them all this way.


All Patented

Members Only May Click On Images

To Read and View

The Detailed Patents

FKM1 & 2

The First Key Machine

Made Keys Directly From Cylinders


The Universal Tubular Key Machine

Made Any & All Tubular Keys

No Matter What The Dimensions Were


Delayed Action Time Delay

Key Operation Shown

Card - Key Pad


Delayed Action Time Delay

Key Operation Shown

Card - Key Pad


Adjustable Time Delay

On-Off, Momentary On or Off

Key Operation Shown

Card - Key Pad


A Cylinder Guard Recessed

Preventing Wrenching Out

From The Lock Secured

From Inside The Door