History of Schlage
extraordinary men, one a brilliant inventor and
the other an astute businessman, forged a partnership
in 1927 which led the way for Schlage Lock Company
to become the pre-eminent leader in the door hardware
industry. These men were Walter Schlage and Charles
Kendrick. Walter Reinhold Schlage, sometimes called
the "Lock Wizard of Thuringia," referring
to the small town in central Germany where he
was born, was not only a master mechanic/inventor
but also an adventurer.
Mr. Schlage's brilliance was recognized early
in his life by his father who interceded on his
behalf to gain his admittance to the Carl Zeiss
Optical Works in Jena at age 14. During the four-year
student-apprentice program, Walter Schlage learned
drafting, applied mechanics and engineering, and
received a special award of merit for his scholarship.
His desire for adventure, whetted by the world
travelers who stayed at his father's hotel in
Thuringia, drove him to leave Germany and head
for London. There he found work as a scientific
instrument maker for Hilger, Ltd. In less than
a year, his curiosity about the world persuaded
him to book passage for the United States. Once
in America, Mr. Schlage became employed at Western
His wanderlust was unsated, however, and Walter
Schlage soon signed on as an engineer on ships
headed for Brazil, the West Indies, and Central
America. He eventually worked his way to California,
then San Francisco, where he was re-employed by
Western Electric Company.
A product of the old German work ethic, Walter
Schlage labored at his job, and then went home
and experimented with lock mechanisms - his abiding
interest. His first invention, patented in 1909,
was a door lock that turned lights on and off.
In about 1920, Mr. Schlage left his employment
at Western Electric and opened a shop south of
Market Street at 229 Mirma Street. He soon moved
to loft quarters at 461 Bush Street (now the heart
of the San Francisco financial district). It was
here that the tools for manufacturing the first
lock with a push-button locking device centered
in the door knob were designed and produced.
company grew quickly from an initial six employees
and several punch presses to 100 employees on
two shifts and a monthly production of nearly
20,000 locks. In 1923, Mr. Schlage moved his fledgling
company to new quarters at 49 Shotwell Street,
where he went into full-scale production of the
push-button lock which was destined to revolutionize
the door lock industry.
Confident of success, Mr. Schlage purchased a
tract of two-and-one-half acres in the southeast
section of San Francisco, known as Visitacion
Valley. There, on Friday, June 25, 1926, the first
of the plant on Bayshore Boulevard was formally
dedicated and declared open for business.
Overextended and beset with financial difficulties,
Mr. Schlage made an urgent appeal to Charles Kendrick,
a local businessman and manufacturer. Mr. Kendrick
made a sizable investment in the company, and
then, in 1927, Mr. Kendrick became president of
Schlage Lock Company. The Schlage Kendrick alliance-the
brilliant inventor and the capable, vigorous organizer-forged
a solid team which worked successfully for more
than twenty years, until Walter Schlage's death
Six years before his death, Walter Schlage was
honored and received the "Modern Pioneer"
award given to outstanding American inventors.
Under the able leadership of Charles Kendrick
and then his son, Marron Kendrick, Schlage prospered.
In 1964, Schlage catapulted into the forefront
of the door lock industry when the company provided
all the locks for the Pan American Building in
New York City, the largest commercial office structure
in the world at the time.
The company began a period of expansion in the
early 1950s. It acquired California Lock Company
to add a low-cost lock to the product line, Peabody
Company for custom door hardware, and LCN
Closers to round out a more complete range
of door hardware offerings.
In 1965, the Von
Duprin factory was acquired, adding panic
door-opener devices to the Schlage offering.
Then, in the 1970s, under the presidency of Marron
Kendrick, Schlage purchased a mortise lock manufacturing
company, General Lock Company of Pontiac, Michigan.
Schlage was acquired by Ingersoll Rand,
a Fortune 150 manufacturer of industrial, mining,
and construction equipment, in 1974. As a result
of the acquisition, Schlage Lock became part of
the Ingersoll Rand Door Hardware Group.
Expansion continued under Ingersoll Rand, and,
in 1975, Schlage acquired lock manufacturing facilities
in New Zealand.
The Security, Colorado, plant located just south
of Colorado Springs was opened in 1976 and now
produces Schlage's cylindrical and mortise locksets
as well as Schlage's Patented Key Systems.
Schlage also operates plants in Tecate and Ensenada
Mexico, where locks are assembled and some parts
are manufactured, plated, and polished.
Schlage continues to set a new standard in Access
Control and Key Systems Management through innovative
products and programs that meet and exceed the
needs of their customers.