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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A LOCKSMITH...


It’s Viva Espana All The Way For Ray


In our popular series ‘A Day in the Life of a Locksmith’, this month we bring you something different. Ray Pollard of A1 Security Systems (Fuengirola) met a lovely lady (now his wife) and discovered a whole new way of life when he moved to Spain’s Costa del Sol – and subsequently - ‘accidentally’ got into locksmithing. Ray told his story to Editor Pat Gwynnette.


I moved to Spain in 2002 after a divorce from my first wife. It was Christmas time and I didn’t want to spend the holiday alone, so I went to Spain to visit my sister who lived in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.


My sister suggested I should think about starting a new life in Spain; it was an idea that appealed so after returning to Britain, I put in my notice at work – I was a manager of a company in Leicester –nothing to do with locksmithing. I moved to the Costa del Sol and looked around for a new job.


In fact, I found the lady of my dreams! I met Mari, who is Norwegian, and we were married in Gibraltar in 2006 and moved into our home in Fuengirola. I got into locksmithing by accident: I am a practical kind of guy so when a lady asked if I could help her open a storeroom door, I managed to do it and it occurred to me that I could develop these skills into a good business opportunity.


After completing a locksmith training course in Spain I launched my business, A1 Security Systems. That was eight years ago and I have never looked back since. The locks here are 90 per cent Euro profile, mainly Tesa and Ezcurra Spanish makes, so not difficult to open; there are no problems with supplies here and people know me by now - plus I have learnt a little Spanish, which obviously helps.


There were two problems that took quite some adjusting to – the afternoon siesta when everything shuts down so jobs have to be scheduled accordingly – and the summer temperatures, which can be around 40 plus degrees.


Last year I went on another training course in Spain run by MB Locksmith, with Mike who trained me in auto-locksmithing. I then decided to invest in equipment from Hickley’s, Advanced Diagnostics, 3D Group, Northwest Keys and other well-known companies, so now I also work as an auto- locksmith. There is growing demand for this, so along with my domestic and commercial property locksmithing, I keep very busy.


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My clients are chiefly from the UK and other English-speaking people – from Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland. But I am also increasing the number of my Spanish clients and am even doing work for a Spanish insurance company. After eight years on the Costa del Sol, most of my work comes through personal recommendations, though I do advertise in the local English language newspaper.


Spain is suffering from high unemployment at present so sadly, crime is on the increase but this naturally means more work. My view on this is that as locksmiths, we have to work through good and bad times wherever we are based and at least we can offer services to help people feel safer and more secure, which has to be a good thing.


I wouldn’t move back to the UK as I am very much still enjoying my lifestyle with Mari here. Even though I am busy, life in Spain has a much more relaxed feel and is not so frantic as it was in the UK. When I have finished work for the day, I still have time to meet my wife on the beach, or head for our home where we will swim in the pool, eat our evening meal on the terrace overlooking the sea – and await the next client call because I offer a 24/7 service!


One of the best things about my working life here is that every day is different.


I usually get up around 9am and we have breakfast on our terrace so it is a leisurely start to the day. I book my first job around 10.30am. A typical day recently began with a visit to an apartment in Riviera del Sol to change a lock for a lady who was renting the apartment out and didn’t want anyone else to have keys. Then I had a ten minute drive to Marbella to help a lady who’d locked herself out of her apartment by leaving the keys on the inside. No problem. A 20 minute drive took me to Benalmadena to install a complete new lockings system for another client.


After a break for lunch, my next job was at 2.30pm in Torreblanca, just 10 minutes away. That was fitting three window locks and a


Ray Pollard of A1 Security Systems


patio door lock which took me about an hour. Next call was back in Fuengirola to an Englishman who had locked his car keys in the boot of his car in a store car park. I was able to pick the boot lock open and retrieve his keys and left him a relieved and happy man!


A 15 minute drive took me to Calahonda to copy a Ford Fiesta car key, read the key cuts on the key and cut a new tibbe key in the back of my van, before cloning the transponder on the Zed-Bull transponder copy machine.


That ended my working day which finished at 6pm.


A Good Reputation


I have a Fiat Doble maxi van and drive around 30,000 kilometres a year, along the coast roads and also inland. No job is too large or too small and I do pride myself on punctuality (this is useful, particularly with ex-pats, because it is not a trait the Spanish possess!) I have built my reputation on this, plus reliability and honesty, and giving a professional service.


I would recommend living and working in Spain, but the timing and the personal conditions have to be right. When I came out here, I was single again, my three children were all grown up and I had enough put by to keep me going until I found another income. It can take around three years to get enough work to live on and obviously, there are various formalities to sort out with the Spanish authorities,


language


difficulties to overcome and adjustment needed to a different approach and climate.


I still attend training courses and recently completed one in the UK, to ensure I keep up to speed with all developments in the business.


Looking back, the decision to move here was one of the best I ever made – meeting my gorgeous Mari, a healthy business and life in the sun. It doesn’t get any better than that!


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