Yale is among the oldest and most well-known international brands in the locksmithing industry. Their locks are so popular that in many languages, Yale’s company name is used as a noun to refer to the locking mechanism of a door. However, what is the secret behind their longevity and success?
Yale made a difference by constantly innovating and daring to think outside the box with its developed products. This article looks into the 150 years of history, from humble origins to becoming the best-known provider in lock technology. Furthermore, it’s a family story that makes things even more enjoyable. So, the next time you need the services of an emergency locksmith, remember that the technology goes back to 1840.
The 19th Century: The Beginning of Yale’s Story
After emigrating to the United States from North Wales, the Yale family still had nothing to do with locksmithing. It wasn’t until 1840 that Linus Yale Senior started designing a series of high-security locks that he later built. The first locks were designed and developed in the Yale Lock Shop in Newport, New York.
After experimenting with several types of locks, he decided to specialize in handmade locks for banks that required high security. The business was going well under Linus Yale, and they were able to gather some resources for the next steps.
Yale Jr Joins the Business to Bring Massive Change
Manufacturing bank locks secured Yale a strong position in the industry. The affluent clientele guaranteed a steady stream of business, providing Yale with plenty of work, so he also decided to bring his son into the Yale company.
Yale Jr. joined the family business ten years after his father established the Yale company and slowly started improving the products. His first focus was to enhance the pin tumbler cylinder lock that his father patented. After enjoying quite some success, Yale Jr moved on to deliver his next creation as a locking expert – the Monitor Bank Lock. It was introduced in 1862, allowing banks to transition from the classical key locks to combination locks or dial mechanisms. What’s more impressive is that the principles used by Yale Jr in the Monitor Lock are considered the standard in all combination locks throughout the USA.
Despite already having some amazing inventions, Yale Jr’s dream was to invent a lock mechanism that ancient Egyptians first used. After hundreds of hours of hard work, Yale finally got the patent for the Yale cylinder lock in 1865. Besides a breakthrough in the mechanisms used, it marked the Yale company’s transition to the general public. Therefore, the range of customers expanded from banks to basically everyone in the US and the world who wanted to lock a door.
The Yale Cylinder Mechanism Takes Over the World
All the ingredients to take the Yale company worldwide were already there. The company had a sterling name, patents for numerous innovations, and plans for many more ingenious breakthroughs. Therefore, by 1868, together with Henry Towne, Yale Jr established the Yale & Towne, quickly reaching 35 employees.
Yale company continued growing and broadening its scope by adding chain hoists, battery-operated platform trucks, and even a line of padlocks. The early 20th century was the moment the company expanded worldwide and employed over 12,000 people. Yale continued its business expansion strategy by acquiring competitors and forming strategic partnerships with companies such as Chubb Locks, C E Marshall, and others.
In 2000, the ASSA ABLOY Group purchased the Yale company. This marked the beginning of a new chapter, specifically after 2010, when the ASSA ABLOY Group purchased Paddock, the largest manufacturer of multipoint locks. Paddock had strong synergies with Yale.
Even today, Yale remains one of the best manufacturers of all types of locks. From the doors, you see in apartment buildings or gates to specialized locks that use the latest technology, biometrics, and other innovations that marked the company’s course from the beginning.
Yale is a rare example of a company founded in 1840 that remains a vital player in its original industry. Yale is a combination of family resilience, forward-thinking, and ingenuity. Their success is also due to the strategic partnerships they have formed over the years. As part of the ASSA ABLOY Group, Yale continues to develop new products to address as many markets as possible.