Jon's Locks offers key to a successful business

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 6/14/18

By ETHAN HARTLEY Jonathan Issa knows the value of hard work, and he also understands that nobody is going to hand you the life you want to lead - you have to get up, work hard and seize it. He learned these lessons without the aid of what has become the

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Jon's Locks offers key to a successful business


Jonathan Issa knows the value of hard work, and he also understands that nobody is going to hand you the life you want to lead – you have to get up, work hard and seize it.

He learned these lessons without the aid of what has become the traditional educational model – four years of high school and at least two years of higher education – as he dropped out of high school when he was 17 and joined the United States Army.

“I needed something to help me straighten my life out,” Issa said during an interview last week from inside his new business space on West Shore Road. Issa owns Jon’s Locks Inc., a locksmithing company that he began with nothing more than $1,000 in his pocket and the will to work round the clock.

In 2003 Issa, at this point a member of the Army’s military police, was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq during what was the peak of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Issa didn’t dwell on the things he experienced while in the service, but he noted the drastic changes that time in the military did for his character.

“It changes you, being in a combat zone. It changes you mentally and physically,” he said. “It made me grow up and it made me the man I am today.”

Issa recalled sleeping on the hood of Humvees for warmth, because despite what people might think of a desert climate like Iraq, when the temperature drops from 120 during the day to 80 at night, “that’s cold,” he said. He recalled some good times too, like combining the powdered coffee, sugar and creamer in his mouth to create a pasty, almost-coffee-esque “candy.”

When he returned home and left the service in 2004, he said his “head wasn’t straight.” He began doing facilities maintenance work – when he realized that a large amount of the work needed to be sent out to locksmiths to accomplish. This eventually led him to the North Bennet Street School in the North End of Boston, a vocational school with over 130 years of history that originally helped train immigrants freshly arriving in the country.

It was here Issa took a year-long course on locksmithing, and he’s only gone forward from there. In 2013 he began his business out of his home with a couple used machines and a van for travel jobs. Now he is planning an official opening ceremony for his first legitimate business headquarters on West Shore Road.

Issa thanked the city’s building department for helping him take the right steps to incorporate his home, and thanked the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce for helping him take the next steps to find and acquire a property to help his growing business continue to prosper. However, he also has himself to thank for his achievements.

“When I first started this business I was running 24 hours,” he explained. “If somebody called me and needed help at 3 a.m. I went out. It was that legwork that got me to where I am today.”

Issa said the biggest misunderstanding people have about locksmiths is that they spend most of their time helping people who get locked out of their cars or homes. He said these calls are actually few and far between. Mostly, his business is crafting keys for automobiles and installing secure locks for homeowners and businesses.

He explained how contractors, through the necessity of keeping costs low, often don’t invest in quality locks or even sometimes have workers who don’t know how to properly install them. He said that locks are an area of security you don’t really want to skimp on financially.

In terms of car keys, Issa gave a demonstration on a small CNC machine – don’t let the size fool you, that machine goes for about $10,000 – that is connected to a computer. The computer programs keys based on the specific car model, and each key has different configurations. He talked about how having a physical key needed to plug into an ignition is safer, because a savvy computer hacker could feasibly “hack” into a keyless fob, which have become popular in modern cars, and unlock and start a car without even having the physical key.

Issa said that he loves what he does because it gives him the opportunity to help people. He also volunteers his skills to causes he believes in. One such endeavor is doing all the lock work for Operation Stand Down, whose goal is to help find veterans affordable housing opportunities.

“My biggest thing is that I like helping people. I try to go above and beyond for my customers, because everybody needs a break once in a while,” he said. “[Working with Operation Stand Down] is fulfilling because it's helping other vets.”

Now that Issa has a space of his own to help grow his business, that’s exactly what he intends to do. His son Zachary graduated from Lincoln High School this week and has already started working with him to learn the value of knowing a skilled trade.

The key to growing a successful business?

“I answer the phone when they call and I show up when I say I'm going to,” said Issa.

Issa maintains a website for his services, which can be accessed at


2 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • dennisgallagher321

    Way to go Jon. Hard work and determination at it's finest. Keep up the good work and I wish you much success.

    Friday, June 15, 2018 Report this

  • Justanidiot

    its habing fine craftsman like dis that draws people to warwicks. you will not find a better services community anywhere in the u s of a and if peoples don't start moving here we are going to erect master mayer again

    Friday, June 15, 2018 Report this