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McKellar changes locks one last time

By July 6, 2022No Comments
Although bittersweet, Wendell McKellar, right, was all smiles while passing the City Locksmithing & Security torch onto Jeff Stumpf and Regan Grimwood of Prince Albert Alarm Systems. Taylor Weaver Meridian Source

 

Wendell McKellar has owned City Locksmithing & Security for just over 30 years and changed the locks on the business one last time before retirement.

The official hand-off of the keys took place last Thursday afternoon in conjunction with a customer-appreciation barbecue, held in the shop’s parking lot as a way for McKellar to thank the community for over three decades of business.

“Just over 30 years ago I was at a locksmith business in Prince Albert and my then-girlfriend, Ellen, was living here, so every weekend one of us would make the trip to visit the other,” said McKellar. “She didn’t want to move to P.A., so I finally moved here and we got married a year later.”

Maybe it’s his golden smile, the fact he knows nearly all of his customers on a first-name basis, or the fact he knows the business very well, but McKellar wasn’t always in the locksmithing game.

“I did a lot of things in my day,” said McKellar. “ I had a farm that I went broke with, a furniture store I went bankrupt with, and then I started knocking on doors selling vacuums, door-to-door trying to pay off a mortgage on a building I wasn’t using anymore.”

“I did quite well selling vacuums and ended up becoming district branch manager in Prince Albert. I had about 30 salesmen and one of them was a locksmith. He said ‘let’s get out of this racket.’ I ended up buying half of his business in P.A., and that’s how I got into it and I’ve been here ever since.”

Once he got his foot in the door and opened his own locksmithing business in town, it wasn’t long before the owners of City Locksmithing came knocking. 

“City Locksmithing asked if I wanted to buy them out. I think Doug and Marion Carnell only had it for maybe four or five years. I ended up buying them out and carried on from there,” he said.

McKellar explained things were slow out of the gate, but he and Ellen stuck with it and made their new business work.

“I basically bought the equipment when I first started, and once the equipment was paid off I got a loan through Lloydminster business development and slowly built the business up,” he said. “I worked two other jobs at the time and did so for about six years, so every dime I made went back into the lock business. At that time my wife and I paid the house off and paid the business off. 

“It’s something I’ve enjoyed my whole life and there’s never a dull moment. The people of Lloydminster have also been a great support over the years.”

For McKellar, now was the right time to retire and finally enjoy everything he and Ellen have worked for over the years.

“I’m going to be 65 next month and I sold to another SecurTek dealer,” he said. “The time was right and I’m ready to get rid of the responsibility. I love what I do, but I’m ready for a change.

“I’ve had a cabin up at Loon Lake for the past 13 years and I’ve yet to take a week’s holiday there … there’s always business to take care of.”

So how will McKellar be spending his well-deserved downtime post-retirement?

“I’m a professional golfer if you didn’t know, but I think I’d make more money cutting keys,” he said with a laugh. “Loon Lake’s got the best golf course in the country, so we’ll have fun up there.”

“And I’m really excited to get some use out of the cabin. That’s the first thing on the agenda.”

McKellar and his wife have two grown children as well as two grandchildren who live in Sylvan Lake, so they plan to get in lots more time with the grandkids.

“I’ve got a little motor home so we’ll park up at Sylvan for a couple of weeks in the summer.”

McKellar sold the business to Jeff Stumpf and Regan Grimwood of Prince Albert Alarm Systems, who are excited to hit the ground running and carry on the work the former owner has done over the years.

“He’s been here for over 30 years so we have some big shoes to fill,” said Stumpf, who is the president and general manager of Prince Albert Alarm Systems.

“I think he knows absolutely everyone in Lloyd. He’s a local celebrity for sure. We’re hoping to carry on his legacy, but I’m not sure if anyone can do it as well as Wendell does, but we’re sure going to try.”