Larry Newberry: The Founder of SouthOrd Tools
Larry Newberry created the #1 best selling locksmith tools the world has ever seen.
SouthOrd Tools are celebrated by master locksmiths and beginner locksport enthusiasts alike.
They are highly coveted in the United Kingdom, Australia, North and South America, Canada, and just about every country and continent in between.
Find out in this interview what makes SouthOrd the #1 tool distributor in the world, and how President Larry Newberry practically owns the locksmith market with his unmatched high-quality lock picking tools and unrivaled distribution.
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Q: Let’s start this interview off by telling us about yourself. What do you do for a living and how are you involved with the Locksport/Locksmith community?
"My name is Larry Newberry, and I’m the president and founder of SouthOrd Locksmith Tools."
Q: What got you into selling lock picks?
"SouthOrd was established in 1989, early on selling other brands of locksmith tools. The major competitors then were HPC, Majestic, and ProLok. Looking toward improvements I thought the picks needed, we began manufacturing in the United States our own line of SouthOrd lock picks in 1991, eliminating the rough feel of rivets in the handles, and instead, utilizing a spot welding process, making the picks smooth from end to end.
We very quickly added electroless nickel plating to add rust resistance, and soon a change was made to the entire line, manufacturing all of our picks with full hard spring stainless steel.
In 1992, a decision was made to design and manufacture an electric lock pick to compete with the imported models sold by others.
The tool was designed from the bottom up using aircraft aluminum and steel instead of cheaper plastic used by others in the industry. And since all things mechanical wear out over time, we made our pick to be inexpensively rebuilt.
And by the way, when rebuilding an electric pick for a customer, all upgrades which have been added since the original purchase are included in the rebuild."
Q: Who do you consider to be your biggest competitor?
"I think today, the biggest competitor is China. The market today is saturated with Chinese products, and it is no different in our industry.
We’ve had a number of our products knocked-off by Chinese companies. As a U.S. manufacturer, we will never be able to match the cheap prices on tools coming out of China, but China will never be able to match our level of quality and service.
We believe that customers will continue to choose quality, U.S.-made tools at fair prices."
Q: The thing that stands out to me about SouthOrd over all the other brands is your HUGE selection of tools and lock picks. It also seems that SouthOrd is the #1 choice for ALL beginner and advanced pickers and enthusiasts. How did SouthOrd become the reigning KING of locksmith tools around the world like it has?
"As more and more improvements were made, and as we expanded our product line, more and more people began choosing SouthOrd Tools, including military personnel, firemen and police officers.
Because our picks are durable and rustproof, we’ve supplied our US Navy Seal Teams. And I must say that this has been a great privilege.
We have the highest regard for our military, law enforcement and first responders, and we are proud to continue supplying them.
As for our tools, we are committed to producing the highest quality tools and providing the highest quality service.
Over the years, we’ve tested and selected the steel which we feel is ideal for lock picking, we’ve made significant improvements in the deburring/polishing/cleaning process of our picks… We don’t make up names for the steel we use or hype our products or use gimmicks, but with every part, on every tool, in every production run, we seek perfection.
We are constantly working to improve our products and to remain innovative in the industry.
We’ve been blessed by God and blessed by our customers, and I extend a heartfelt thank you to them. We value each and every one of our customers."
Q: What are some of the products that are new to the market right now, and which of your products seem to sell the most over the years?
"We’ve recently introduced a compact version of our Electric Lock Pick, we expanded our line of tension tools, offering a wider variety of widths and thicknesses to better fit various keyways, and we recently introduced our automobile air wedge.
Our Pagoda Series of lock picks, our Pin Tumbler Lock Jigglers, and our Pocket Pen Pick Sets were well received by our customers.
And classic sets like the PXS-14 Fourteen Piece Lock Pick Set and our JPXS-6 Jackknife Lock Pick Set have consistently sold well over the years."
Q: How is the communication between you and the makers and fabricators of the products that SouthOrd sells, or does SouthOrd own their own factories for the products they sell?
"Unlike so many lock picks in the marketplace that are made in China or other foreign countries, we manufacture our lock picks in the Orlando area of central Florida, using only steel that’s made in the U.S.A.
We are in constant communication with our engineers in regard to production and product development."
Q: SouthOrd has been around for a long time. Were you surprised at the popularity of locksport and lock picking enthusiasts over the years? Has there been a higher demand for your tools as the locksport community grows?
"As with many children, I was intrigued by the art of lock picking, so I’m not surprised to see the surge in popularity of Locksports worldwide.
Along with our locksmith, military, law enforcement and first responder customers, Locksport and lock picking enthusiasts have become an important part of our customer base over the years."
Q: Do you have any tips on anyone wanting to get into selling, making, or trading on a wholesale or distributor level, and what was/is the hardest part about selling to the Locksport community and locksmiths?
"I encourage others to start their own retail businesses.
With a very small investment and the drive to work hard, folks can become quite successful. SouthOrd itself was started with a $750 investment.
We continue to welcome those who wish to sell SouthOrd Tools at all levels whether they are a distributor, wholesaler, or in the retail industry."
Q: What tools do you keep in your personal ultimate lock picking kit?
"I keep a JPXS-6 Jackknife Lock Pick Set with me, and an MPXS-20 set in my car."
Q: Are you picking any locks right now? What are some of your favorite locks to play with?
"These days, when I pick locks, it’s usually for product production or development.
Or when I’ve helped a buddy get back in his house or his car."
Q: Finally, what is your favorite beer to drink while picking (or selling) locks?
"It depends upon the day. Today, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA!"