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Innovation: Our past, present and future

If there's one word that describes our company, it's innovation.

We were founded on one man's innovation. We've remained a leader for over 100 years because of continued innovation in both product design and manufacturing processes. And our vision for the future is one rooted in innovating how security is viewed and experienced on a daily basis.

Frank Best was a high school custodian entrusted with maintaining a large high school in Washington state. Every day, he carried a key ring with 100 keys on it—one key for every door. Whenever a key was lost, he had to rekey the entire lock. He was convinced there had to be a better way, and experimented for seven years until he found it. The result was the first small format interchangeable core and the foundation of today's industry approach to masterkeying. Little did he know at the time that his invention would completely transform the lock industry.

The result was the first small format interchangeable core and the foundation of today’s industry approach to masterkeying.

Surprisingly, the small format interchangeable core (SFIC) wasn't initially well received. One manufacturer told Frank Best that there would never be a market for the SFIC because it was too complex and intricate to manufacture. But Best believed in the idea. Undeterred, he formed the Best Universal Co. to build the necessary machines to manufacture SFICs—machines so advanced at the time that they were used until the mid-1980s.

That innovation—born from a commitment to find the best possible solution—remains part of the DNA at BEST. From the products we design, to the way we manufacture them, to the installation and service we provide, everything we do is the result of our determination to find a better way to serve the markets and people who use our products.

That innovative spirit guides our future as well. Entrenched in the foundation that Frank Best laid all those years ago, BEST is designing and developing the next generation of security products—ones certain to transform how we think about security, just like the interchangeable core did a century ago.

The BEST Timeline

1919

Frank Best invents the small format interchange core and files a patent application for the first interchangeable core lock.

1920

Frank Best founds BEST Lock Company in the living room of his home in Seattle, Washington.

1921

The first patent is issued.

1923

BEST Universal Lock Co., a separate manufacturing company, is formed.

1925

The first production of padlocks occurs.

1938

The company relocates to the Midwest in downtown Indianapolis.

1958

The company moves to its present 50-acre location on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

1966

Walter Best, Frank's son, becomes president during a difficult financial period in the company. Under Walter's leadership, the company grew from sales of $4.5 million in 1966 to $104.6 million in 1994.

1970s

The company starts investing in developing its own mortise and cylindrical locks.

1985

Automated manufacturing lines began, increasing production from 5,000 to 10,000 cores daily.

1994

Russell Best, the grandson of Frank Best, becomes the third generation to lead BEST Lock Company as CEO and President.

1996

The company changes its name to BEST Access Systems to reflect the broader security focus.

1998 - 2000

BEST Access Systems purchases all independent sales offices, ensuring a true national footprint in the industry.

1997

Worldwide sales exceed $135 million.

2002

Stanley Security purchases BEST Access Systems.

2013

BEST moves to a dedicated distribution model instead of selling direct to end users.

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