Depending on the source of information, lock technology first emerged in the Middle East anywhere from 6,000 to 4,000 years ago and has continued evolving from a basic pin-and-tumbler mechanism ever since.

Similarly, Cothron’s Safe & Lock has been evolving in both products sold and services offered since Olen Cothron opened the first shop in Central Austin in January 1948, General Manager John Hernandez said.

Still, some elements have remained.

“We basically started as just like a mom and pop [shop], and a lot of it is still that way,” he said.

The first Cothron’s lock opened near downtown Austin on Congress Avenue, and now the business has two locations and a corporate headquarters in Austin as well as a location in Round Rock that opened on Mays Street in 2008, Hernandez said.

About 95% of customer calls are for modern car key replications, he said. He added the service the company provides is a cheaper and often more convenient alternative to a dealership.

Beyond the wide variety of services offered, including safe repairs and access control system installations, Cothron’s also sells plenty of industry-related products from safes to lock hardware.

Although big-box stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot offer key replacement services, Hernandez said they are not really competition for his shop. Cothron’s offers superior expertise and customer service, he said.

Hernandez said he was recently curious about the combined expertise of employees at Cothron’s.

“Once I started actually penciling in the amount of years that some of these guys have, ... we have over 500 years of lock experience,” he said.

Cothron’s Safe & Lock

2119 N. Mays St., Round Rock


Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., closed Sun., 24-hour mobile lockout services available