History of McCumber Locksmith Shop

 

 

McCumber Locksmith Shop was founded in Cody, Wyoming by my grandfather, James "Allen" McCumber, in 1974. Though he had been practicing as a locksmith part-time since he completed his correspondence training in 1972. Allen completed his formal locksmith training through the Locksmith Institute in Chicago, IL, but he comes from a long line of locksmiths dating back to 1918. "Locksmithing, you could say, is in our blood."

Allen says. "My granddad Jimmy Allen, for whom I was named, became a Certified Locksmith in 1918. Granddad was the one who put the idea in my head. He had a shop here in Cody and one in Thermopolis, which was ran for some years by his son-in-law, my father, Faye McCumber. As was often the case back then, granddad Jimmy was sort of a 'Jack-of-all trades'. He was a tinsmith as well and had a large shop in downtown Cody and one in Thermopolis, too."

Jimmy Allen by his model T
"When my parents moved from Thermop to Cody, pappy" (Allen's dad) "went to work on the North Fork Project as a lumberjack clearing timber for the new road from Cody to Yellowstone National Park. Then, through my uncle Wendell Greybull, he got on with the Bureau of Reclamation and worked in the power plant at the Buffalo Bill Dam. I don't think he did much locksmithing after that."

Allen and his wife Fran started McCumber Locksmith Shop in a rental house which sits right next to and in back of their house at 1026 Alger Ave. He and grandma Fran converted the rental into the lock shop and have kept it in the same location ever since. " We're actually in a residential zone, but we started the business before the city zoned this area, so we were 'grand fathered' in" says grandma Fran. "I never saw any reason to move the shop anywhere else" grandpa says. At the time, grandma also had her own business, Fran's Daycare. She says,"the daycare is what kept us going in the beginning, but once the shop really got going, I was able to retire from the daycare, and work full time cutting keys and keeping the books."

Many members of my family have worked for McCumber Locksmith Shop since grandpa Allen went full time back in '82. First to work for him was his brother Paul. "It was more of a part-time gig for Paul, he was there to help out when ever I needed it." At that time, the shop was just getting under way and we didn't have a need for another full-time employee."

BobNext to work for grandpa was his son, Bob. Grandpa says "well, for Bob, it was bad timing. He was just out of the service and had planed to come back to Cody and buy out another locksmith who was going to retire here in town. Then we would have two shops, plus the mobile service. But, the deal fell through, because the other locksmith's relation took it over instead. At the same time, yet another lock shop opened here in town, complete with a drive-thru window! There was just too many of us here in Cody, and we couldn't pay enough to keep Bob and his family 'afloat. So, he decided to become a chef instead."
Then my older cousin, Jim Mathews worked for grandpa part-time when he was out of school for a while. "Like a lot of young folks, he was trying different jobs on for size. He was good at it. We all have the knack", grandpa says.

"Everyone in my family who tried their hand at locksmithing were real good at it. It's a demanding career, though. When you provide emergency service around the clock, and every day of the week, you can get tired, lose focus, a lot of locksmiths just burn out. It's not for everyone, even if you are good at it. Seems keys just have a mind of their own. They grow legs and walk off, or sprout wings....and when they decide to hide from you, it's usually in the middle of the night and 20 below outside."

Then, in early 1997, grandpa Allen was getting a little burnt out himself. I had just completed my second semester of community college and had decided that two semesters was about all the formal education I could handle. Like a lot of kids at that time it seems, I thought, "to heck with school, I'm going to get a jump start on life and join the work force!" HA!! I joined the work force all right! I had 4 part-time jobs in three different towns, and I worked around the clock. I started my day at 5 am in Meeteetse, a town of about 350 souls where I grew up, life guarding at the community pool for the early bird exercisers. After that, I would go to Cody and guide white-water raft trips down the Shoshone river for most of the day. Early evening you would find me delivering pizza until 11 pm or so still in Cody. After that it was on to Powell to deliver furniture.
My wife (then girlfriend) lived in Powell, Grandma and Grandpa McCumber lived in Cody, and my dad lived in Meeteetse, so I would crash at one of those three places depending on where I was to work next. Finally, Grandpa Allen sat me down and said, "son, you're running yourself to death! Now, you need a steady job, and I need some help so you're going to come work for me. I knew next to nothing about locksmithing, and I hadn't grown up around the shop, so I was about as green as they come. But after just a few days of being Granddad's gofer I was hooked!! I still worked part time on the river for that summer and the next, but I took to locksmithing like a duck to water.

Darin and StacyMy wife and I married in the fall of '97 and I worked full time ( except for the occasional river trip summer '98) ever since. Grandpa signed me up for a correspondence course of my own through NRI (National Radio Institute) out of Washington D.C. It was a 4 year program, but with Grandpa's patient tutelage I completed the course in 18 months. I joined the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) in 1999, and the Wyoming Locksmiths' Association (WLA) the same year.

LSOY Darin

Through those associations, and with the help of our distributors, we stay up-to-date and state of the art in all areas of the locksmith field. We attend classes up to six times per year in places like Casper, WY, (the traditional meeting place of the WLA), Salt Lake City UT, Denver CO, and as far away as Minneapolis MN. Locks and keys are changing and evolving faster than ever before, and we take pride in keeping pace with this amazing industry. That's why we invest in the latest training, technology and equipment, while preserving and putting into practice the knowledge and skill handed down through five generations.

In March of 2009, I bought the business, shop, and the house from my grandparents. Grandpa and grandma were able to retire, and my wife and I cary on with their tradition, in the same location, with the same friendly and professional service.

"We have deep roots in the Bighorn Basin." Allen says. And it is because this community is our home, and it's residents are our neighbors, that's why we love what we do and we care about each customer as one neighbor is supposed to care for the other. And it is because of our neighbors that we have prospered here for so long. And with their help, we'll be here a lot longer, too.

Grandpa Allen and DarinThank you for taking time to check out our "About Us" page. Please also see our FAQ's section for more interesting stuff about the people, services, and history of the McCumber Locksmith Shop.

 
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         
   

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