Story provided by Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish
The local Pop-A-Lock franchise has been serving the locksmith needs of the Chippewa Valley since October 2012. The company offers a complete range of commercial, residential, and automotive locksmith services. “We provide everything from making spare keys and remotes for your vehicles to re-keying new homes or even working on commercial doors and locks,” Chris Colbert, franchise owner, said.
Pop-A-Lock of the Chippewa Valley is part of the largest contingent of professional locksmiths in the world. “That means we not only have the opportunity to offer our customers better pricing on hardware because of our system’s buying power, but it also means that if there is ever a question about a particular lock or repair that is needed, it’s likely that another locksmith within our system has dealt with it and can offer advice,” Colbert said.
When the company opened three years ago, its chosen location was the Chippewa Valley Innovation Center (CVIC), the regions first business incubator. CVIC assists business start-ups by providing a shared facility and a support system for precision manufacturing start-up and local entrepreneurs.
“Pop-A-Lock locations throughout North America are primarily mobile operations, so the CVIC was perfect for us when we were first starting—all we needed was office space for employee meetings and some storage of tools and marketing materials,” Colbert explained. After the company realized they could expand services and wanted to service customers’ vehicles at their office site, they began considering a retail location. “We also purchased a related business in June and, at that time, began actively seeking a new location,” Colbert said.
Colbert and his team enjoyed their time at the CVIC. “During our time at the CVIC, there was the benefit of having several entrepreneurs in a single location to bounce ideas off of and share contacts in order to help each other be successful,” Colbert said. In addition, the business connections with CVIC board members were a direct benefit to Pop-A-Lock. “The people who serve on the board were always willing to share their experiences and open doors for our company to help us be successful,” Colbert added.
Whether located in the CVIC or at its new space—2122 Hallie Road in Chippewa Falls—Pop-A-Lock is thrilled with its location in the Chippewa Valley. “The people of the Chippewa Valley are very appreciative of a company that offers valuable service at a reasonable price. We love that no two days are the same in our business,” Colbert said. “The area is also supportive of new start-up companies to help them become successful, especially with sharing information on services. We offer free emergency car door unlocking if a child is ever accidentally locked in a car. And, during the summer months, we offer the same for pets in cars,” he continued. People in the area have shared this service with both family and friends.
Although they have now graduated from the CVIC, Colbert hopes that more people become aware of its services. “I’ve met new business owners that don’t know the economic development teams in our area are there to help them with ideas, resources, and contacts to help them start and grow their businesses,” Colbert said. With the hard work of a business owner and the partnership with the CVIC, business success can be captured in the area. “While there’s nothing like the hard work an entrepreneur is willing to put into his or her own business, they don’t have to do it alone. There are wonderful people who want to see us build a successful business that serves the residents of the Chippewa Valley,” Colbert concluded.