As the families of the Europeans migrated in the late 1800’s to the Americas, my family came to Albany. Tevia Phillips settled in Albany and opened a locksmith shop on Madison Avenue just above South Pearl Street about 1889. When his son Abraham Phillips grew up helping in the shop they moved the business to a location on the west side of South pearl Street just north of Madison Avenue. Tevia passed the shop on to Abraham in 1910 and Abraham expanded the operation to include gas lighting taking a course in New York City at the Hirsch School. Being progressive, he opened a BEN FRANKLIN store selling hardware, house wares, toys, electric supplies, tools, etc. as well as service installing the gas lighting, and repair and installation of locks. This was located on the east side of South Pearl Street right across the street from the previous location.
His son, William ‘Bill’ Phillips, followed the family tradition becoming a skilled locksmith and ran the operation of the store with his brother Harold Phillips and their Mother Rose until the early 1930’s when the Great Depression ended that venture. But not to be lost was the skill and knowledge William Phillips opened a small hardware and locksmith shop at 86 South Pearl Street. He expanded the locksmith business into the commercial and institutional fields servicing many banks, schools, government offices, and residential areas in the tri city area and beyond.
By 1941 he couldn’t handle the volume of business that was both in and out of the store and he partnered with his brother together operating PHILLIPS HARDWARE. This was fast growing and expanding the store was a must to display all the materials including large electric machines (saws, lathes, drill presses, etc.) as well as safes, lawn mowers, garden equipment, hand power tools, and all kinds of household and commercial materials. The store on the corner of Division Street and South Pearl Street was right next door and became available in the late 1940’s. The brothers decided to stay there at 84/86 South Pearl Street.
During this time Edwin Phillips started to follow his father, ‘Bill’, on Saturdays, after school, and holidays and vacations. Learning the skills passed down through the generations. After Ed served in the Army, he ran a branch of Phillips Hardware on Delaware Avenue for 6 years doing the in shop repairs as well as the general hardware operations. At that time there was a massive change in the city / state structures and Governor Rockefeller needed to have the land on South Pearl Street. Subsequently, PHILLIPS HARDWARE moved both locations to 15 South Pearl Street.
In the existing operation in December of 1963 the partnership of Phillips Hardware was dissolved and William and Edwin Phillips partnership was formed locating at 803 Central Avenue.
The corporation of Phillips Hardware became A PHILLIPS HARDWARE INC. run by Harold and his son located at 15 South Pearl Street.
William and Edwin continued to pursue the locksmith path in earnest specializing in the field of lock and safe service sales and repairing. Soon we found ourselves in an electronic revolution in access control including electric and electro magnetic locks, card access systems, closed circuit television, and alarm systems. Not to be left out of the field we took courses to keep up with the industry and the products that were being advanced. William passed on in 1971 and Edwin took over the business changing to W & E Phillips Locksmith, Inc. from the partnership level. We also moved to 537 Central Avenue and built up the business there for 5 years. In 1980 we needed more room and moved to 351 Central Avenue. The fleet of service vans had now expanded to 3 and the territory covered the area within 100 miles radius of the Capital district.
During this time Edwin’s son Gary had been following in his fathers’ footsteps learning the business and working the shop. Getting to know the customers, salesmen, distributors and factory representatives and actively engaging in the courses offered by the local and national locksmith organizations. By the time he left high school he was skilled and stepping beyond the knowledge of the service personnel. His skills were sharp and his knowledge became increasingly better than the ‘old man’. Gary was ready to take the reins when Edwin put in for retirement.
The building at 351 Central Avenue was strategically located next to a building being used for radio and television shows. They approached us to sell them our property. After negotiating terms, we agreed. In 2005 we started to renovate a building at 24 Colvin Avenue, and moved in shortly after in 2006. The present fleet of vehicles is up to 5 and the territory now has expanded to all of New York State as well as doing some servicing in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and providing an array of products to clients throughout the United States. Over the years Gary bought a company doing business as Gard Tec Security Systems. This is a companion corporation that distributes electronic hardware relating to access control, card access materials, closed circuit television, and mechanical locking hardware including high security key control. In 2016 the 2 companies merge and Gary took over full ownership as Edwin and Fern Phillips retired.
How The Phillips Family Developed To a Top Line Security Company