Propel Protégé Profile: The Flying Locksmiths

The Knoxville Chamber’s Propel mentor/protégé program pairs an established community business leader with a protégé who is relatively new to business.

Firm: The Flying Locksmiths

Owner: Chris Smith


I started out as vice president of sales for 15 years for Y-12 Credit Union. It was not a normal career progression. I always wanted to do something on my own. For years I looked for a small business to buy. I couldn’t find anything, but for many reasons I settled on The Flying Locksmiths franchise.

I think first and foremost I saw the market potential. Doors and locks are a great market in the East Tennessee area, and I felt that I could carve out a niche here. I wanted to stay in Knoxville, as my children attend high school and college here.

I also like this business because it allows me to apply my military training passion to provide a holistic asset approach to the business.


We offer full-service commercial and residential locksmith and security solutions. We provide master key systems, emergency egress, doors closures, regular and continuous door hinges and door repair and replacement.

We also provide complete access control system and security badging systems, as well as key stripe, electric stripe and magnetic lock systems. We offer remote door openers, buzzer systems, video camera systems and door and lock security risk assessments service. We also combine the physical hardware assessments with safety and security advice.


We provide full service with doors and locks. Most firms offer door repairs or installation, or locksmith only, or access controls only. We do all three within one firm. This is a benefit for our commercial clients, as it allows them to have one partner with a lot of skills and reduces the need for multiple companies.

Being in the Navy for eight years as a logistics and civil engineering officer taught me to begin with the end in mind. The military taught me a great deal about security. It starts with securing the perimeter and goes from there. Doors and locks are the critical first step to any type of egress or security. Currently I am a cyber warfare officer for the Air National Guard, so security and safety is something I live and breathe every day.

For the bulk of locksmiths, it’s one person working at the firm. We bring a team approach to a project. Customers understand the value of a firm who is insured at a commercial standard, rather than just at a single locksmith rate. If something arises from an incident caused by a door, they want to be assured that their risks are covered adequately.

We offer 24-hour emergency repairs. This is a big benefit to our clients. We understand that businesses operate on their own schedules, and we need to meet their needs. We have done work for hospitals before at 5:30 a.m. so it wouldn’t hurt operations.


The perfect clients for us are facility managers or property managers who have up to 50 doors to manage. Their staff may have skills to do small repairs, but struggle with keeping up with all of their door issues. Most of our clients have locksmiths on staff, but they need assistance with the door repairs and installation, especially with door hinging.