Biz Buzz: Rexburg Locksmiths Share Secrets to Success After 40 Years in Business

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REXBURG

Rexbury locks and security store celebrating 40 years in business

Steve Rowley tinkering with a lock in his Rexburg shop. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

REXBURG – For Mike Rowley, running a successful business for 40 years comes down to two things: adapting to change and caring for people.

He opened ARC Electronics at 47 East Main Street in Rexburg in 1982. Today, he operates from the same location as ARK Security.

Rowley and his son, Steven, who is the chief commercial officer, celebrated the company’s 40th anniversary on August 23 – the same day he started it four decades ago. In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, Mike explained the significance of this date.

“It was my daughter’s first birthday, so we can always remember (when it opened),” Mike says. “It’s been really good for us because every one of our kids has worked here.”

The company has provided a variety of services over the years, including car stereo installations and Dish network subscriptions.

As these services have moved on, the only thing that has remained consistent is locksmithing and key duplications.

Steven showed us what key making looks like, what you can watch in the video above.

mike rowley newspaper clipping
A 1982 newspaper clipping showing Mike Rowley at work. | Tyler Platts

After four decades of serving customers, Mike says he is proud of the company’s reputation and delighted to still have needed service.

“Your ideal business when you open is this – as things go, you always make changes,” says Mike, referring to the death of specific services over the years. “The main idea behind this business has always been to help people.”

He cites specific instances where someone called because their young child was locked in the car. Mike was able to respond quickly to unlock the vehicle and provide service at no charge.

“The average response time is three to five minutes. We’re there, we open the car, and the child is fine. It’s gratifying,” he says. “I’ve had people upset because we didn’t charge them (in those cases).”

Many people call law enforcement when locked out of their vehicle, and Mike is the first person dispatchers call in these situations.

Mike recalls being told by the Chief of Police many years ago to get there “as quickly as it is safe to do”.

“Ninety percent of the time I beat the officer over there and open the car before he even gets there,” Mike says.

Steven became director in 2010 after graduating from Brigham Young University-Idaho. He loves having a skill set that isn’t taught in a university and being able to teach those skills to a new generation.

Open a business and adapt to change

As a young man, long before he thought about starting a business, Mike remembers working for a locksmith who told him he could never make a living in the profession.

So he left and settled in Rexburg while taking courses to improve his knowledge and expertise.

ark showcase
ARK Security at 47 East Main Street in Rexburg. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

By staying focused on helping people, Mike says he found success working in a niche industry.

“We could dramatically increase our prices to make it more profitable, but that’s not the idea behind what we did,” says Mike.

Steven grew up working in the business with his father and was involved in car radio and electronics early on.

He wanted to do something else after graduating from high school, but ultimately chose to pursue a business degree and earn a living in the same business his father had started.

“After I graduated (from college), I decided to really look at our business model, and that’s when we made a lot of changes,” Steven says.

One of them was the name. He moved from ARC Electronics to ARK Lock & Security when he started as a manager 12 years ago.

Other changes were related to technology. The acquisition of new resources and skills allowed the company to continue to manufacture keys and unlock cars equipped with sophisticated electronic circuits.

“Locksmithing is an older, good old boy service, and there aren’t a lot of young people getting into the industry. So the fact that we made the decision to invest the money and keep up to date with the technology was one of the best decisions,” says Steven.

Steven plans to eventually buy the business from his father, who hopes to retire in the near future.

As Mike nears the end of his career, he is grateful to the people of Rexburg for having “been so good” to him over the years. He looks forward to taking care of customers for as long as he can.

“Our normal response time is two hours to a day (depending on where the customer is located),” says Mike. “They always say, ‘How come you can get here so fast when I can’t have these other guys for four or five days?’ It’s just the attitude of what we do.

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