Paul Jamieson: business on a handshake and a smile

Paul Jamieson ran Paul’s Lock until the day he died.

Bedridden this spring with rectal and liver cancer, Paul still met with his employees to discuss challenges with specific security projects on the go. He’d have advice on the city’s landfill security project, or an opinion on a commercial job that needed his input.

And when he gave up the struggle on June 6–16 days ago–this community lost a nugget of a man.

Paul Jamieson was the energy, the ambition, the intellect, and the drive behind a security business that started out of his home in New Lowell, grew to a locksmith shop behind Brass & Glenn at 17 Bayfield St., consumed a larger property at 348 Tiffin St. and embraced the ages-old locksmithing practice with today’s digital, space sensor security systems.

While most people go to bed at night with a book, a magazine, maybe a fishing guide or a resort book, Paul’s pre-sleep reading material included manuals for security systems, computer networks, the nuts and bolts of his business.

When he was told 18 months ago that the cancer in his body would take his life within eight weeks, Paul took his customary energy into battle and gave it his best fight. His wife, Anna says it was his healthy lifestyle that gave him 18 months rather than two. And it was her commitment that let him live all 18 of those months in their beloved Oro Township home where he died at age 67.

Paul Jamieson, wavy curls, a big smile and a straightforward approach to just about everything, was a young businessman in the late 1960’s. He moved to Barrie from north Toronto, fresh out of Northern Technical School where he’d graduated as a machinist with an electronics specialty. He started working for Barrie Hardware, located almost at the water on Bayfield St. People started to bring their locks in for repair and Paul would take them on, fix them up and hand them back to the customers.

It was Paul’s boss at Barrie Hardware who recognized the entrepreneur in his midst. “Paul, you should be in business yourself. You’re very good.”

And so Paul started in the lock business, first out of his home garage in New Lowell. And from his locksmith shop across the street from Barrie Hardware, in 1972, he built a business in locks, padlocks, and keys, keys, keys. “If there was a key to be had, Paul had it, over 10,000 different keys. From Newmarket to North Bay, Paul had keys for everyone,” recalls Anna.

What made Paul’s Lock stand out was that Paul serviced everything he sold and carried a huge inventory to guarantee that service. Even if he’d sold a security device years ago, Paul stocked what he needed to service that lock.

As the 70’s turned into the 80’s Paul and his team grew into high security locks, electronic locks, push button locks, locks for elevators, automatic carpets at grocery stores. Paul’s interest in both electronics and machining grew to include digital components.

Paul also was proud dad to five kids. With his second marriage to Anna Anderson in 1976, he entered one happy partnership. Anna and Paul worked in the business 24/7. She handled the employer/employee aspects of government reporting and her daughter Ruth joined the business and became one of 10 loyal employees.

Paul’s Lock built its business on 70% commercial, 30% residential, with the residential being high-end homes with sophisticated security systems.

Anna says of Paul: “He was an absolute genius in his field. If there was a new product out, Paul read the manual. He did this until the day he died. He set up our computer systems, our inventory systems.

To his community Paul was an avid member of the Optimist Club, dedicated to service to youth. And during the visitation prior to his funeral, Paul’s old Optimist friends, John Ritchie, Henry Verstraten, Maurice Keogh, Brian Whittaker, all took time to pay their respects.

In fact, Paul was involved in his funeral right to dotting the last i. He insisted that he and Anna take care of their legal arrangements, and then wanted to go to Jennett’s, to Simon and David, to make his funeral arrangements. Even though he’d done the security system on their big new facility in Stroud, Paul didn’t want people to have to drive too far. “Let’s stay nice and central,” he said to Anna. “Simon and David did business with me and I’m going to do business with them.” He chose his casket. He called his friends, the Jensens and asked if they’re sing three songs: Anmazing Grace, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and In The Garden.

He called down to a friend in Oakville to ask if he’d to his service. They met. They talked. Paul laid it all out. They discussed family, challenges, attitudes, resources. And then Paul called his cousin, ‘Dr. Bill’ to see if he’d say a few words. Dr. Bill said he was hoping Paul would ask.

“Well, fax me up your speech, and I’ll stroke out what I don’t want you to say!” quipped Paul.

Honest. Brave. Sincere. A man who stood by his word. Or his smile. He never backed off. He made sure his customers were 100% happy. High morals. Loved life. A pianist. A guitarist. He loved nature. He loved to camp. He loved to get on a tractor and dig holes and fill them up again.

There’s a big hole in our community today, with Paul Jamieson no longer here. And he won’t be filling this one up.

Thanks, Paul.