History of Schlage

Two extraordinary men, one a brilliant inventor and the other an astute businessman, forged a partnership in 1927 which led the way for Schlage Lock Company to become the pre-eminent leader in the door hardware industry. These men were Walter Schlage and Charles Kendrick. Walter Reinhold Schlage, sometimes called the "Lock Wizard of Thuringia," referring to the small town in central Germany where he was born, was not only a master mechanic/inventor but also an adventurer.

Mr. Schlage's brilliance was recognized early in his life by his father who interceded on his behalf to gain his admittance to the Carl Zeiss Optical Works in Jena at age 14. During the four-year student-apprentice program, Walter Schlage learned drafting, applied mechanics and engineering, and received a special award of merit for his scholarship.

His desire for adventure, whetted by the world travelers who stayed at his father's hotel in Thuringia, drove him to leave Germany and head for London. There he found work as a scientific instrument maker for Hilger, Ltd. In less than a year, his curiosity about the world persuaded him to book passage for the United States. Once in America, Mr. Schlage became employed at Western Electric Company.

His wanderlust was unsated, however, and Walter Schlage soon signed on as an engineer on ships headed for Brazil, the West Indies, and Central America. He eventually worked his way to California, then San Francisco, where he was re-employed by Western Electric Company.

A product of the old German work ethic, Walter Schlage labored at his job, and then went home and experimented with lock mechanisms - his abiding interest. His first invention, patented in 1909, was a door lock that turned lights on and off.

In about 1920, Mr. Schlage left his employment at Western Electric and opened a shop south of Market Street at 229 Mirma Street. He soon moved to loft quarters at 461 Bush Street (now the heart of the San Francisco financial district). It was here that the tools for manufacturing the first lock with a push-button locking device centered in the door knob were designed and produced.

The company grew quickly from an initial six employees and several punch presses to 100 employees on two shifts and a monthly production of nearly 20,000 locks. In 1923, Mr. Schlage moved his fledgling company to new quarters at 49 Shotwell Street, where he went into full-scale production of the push-button lock which was destined to revolutionize the door lock industry.

Confident of success, Mr. Schlage purchased a tract of two-and-one-half acres in the southeast section of San Francisco, known as Visitacion Valley. There, on Friday, June 25, 1926, the first of the plant on Bayshore Boulevard was formally dedicated and declared open for business.

Overextended and beset with financial difficulties, Mr. Schlage made an urgent appeal to Charles Kendrick, a local businessman and manufacturer. Mr. Kendrick made a sizable investment in the company, and then, in 1927, Mr. Kendrick became president of Schlage Lock Company. The Schlage Kendrick alliance-the brilliant inventor and the capable, vigorous organizer-forged a solid team which worked successfully for more than twenty years, until Walter Schlage's death in 1946.

Six years before his death, Walter Schlage was honored and received the "Modern Pioneer" award given to outstanding American inventors.

Under the able leadership of Charles Kendrick and then his son, Marron Kendrick, Schlage prospered. In 1964, Schlage catapulted into the forefront of the door lock industry when the company provided all the locks for the Pan American Building in New York City, the largest commercial office structure in the world at the time.

The company began a period of expansion in the early 1950s. It acquired California Lock Company to add a low-cost lock to the product line, Peabody Company for custom door hardware, and LCN Closers to round out a more complete range of door hardware offerings.

In 1965, the Von Duprin factory was acquired, adding panic door-opener devices to the Schlage offering.

Then, in the 1970s, under the presidency of Marron Kendrick, Schlage purchased a mortise lock manufacturing company, General Lock Company of Pontiac, Michigan.

Schlage was acquired by Ingersoll Rand, a Fortune 150 manufacturer of industrial, mining, and construction equipment, in 1974. As a result of the acquisition, Schlage Lock became part of the Ingersoll Rand Door Hardware Group.

Expansion continued under Ingersoll Rand, and, in 1975, Schlage acquired lock manufacturing facilities in New Zealand.

The Security, Colorado, plant located just south of Colorado Springs was opened in 1976 and now produces Schlage's cylindrical and mortise locksets as well as Schlage's Patented Key Systems.

Schlage also operates plants in Tecate and Ensenada Mexico, where locks are assembled and some parts are manufactured, plated, and polished.

Schlage continues to set a new standard in Access Control and Key Systems Management through innovative products and programs that meet and exceed the needs of their customers.


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