About BEST
Home / About BEST

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 the Head of the Manual Training department at 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


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


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


The first patent is issued.


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


The first production of padlocks occurs.


The company relocates to the Midwest in downtown Indianapolis.


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


Worldwide sales exceed $135 million.


Stanley Security purchases BEST Access Systems.


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


dormakaba acquires STANLEY Security’s mechanical division to form BEST Access Solutions, Inc.


Find a Dealer

We are where you are. Get immediate access to all the products BEST has to offer.

Search now