Locked And Loaded
Very Interesting|September/October 2021
A 100-year legacy has left people with things to protect – including themselves – feeling safer
Bruce Dennill

Harry Soref was a Ukrainian immigrant who settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the US in the early 1900s. In 1921, he founded Master Lock, a company whose now 100-year history is dotted with some fascinating milestones in both popular culture and the development of security technology.

History and helpfulness

Robert Pullinger, Operations Director of IB McIntyre & Co, who represent Master Lock in South Africa, is an enthusiastic evangelist for locking things up and doing it well.

“We can help you lock up anything from an aircraft to a mine,” he says. A mine? A whole mine?

Pullinger explains that it has to do with tag-out systems, where various employees, whose personal locks can be labelled, have to lock, unlock and move their locks to different tag stations that are part of the apparatus securing circuit boards, fuel lines, heavy machinery and other similarly high-risk parts of huge operations like mines. This enables colleagues to determine who is still in which part of which facility, and whether the next step in an operation can safely be begun.

He then notes: “Master Lock was first brought into South Africa by South African Railways in 1935. They had been using brass locks on all their switches, but those were easily knocked off to be sold for scrap. The laminated locks they replaced those with don’t break, so they’ve been there for decades now.” The Mackie (IB McIntyre’s brand) headquarters in Maitland, Cape Town, buzz with activity and ideas. Pullinger picks up something that looks like handcuffs, explaining that they’re actually motorcycle locks, apparently developed after bikers at bars found that actual handcuffs (why did they have them? – don’t ask…) were a useful tool for ensuring their machines stayed attached to poles outside their drinking holes.

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