Alumin Photo

Aaron Fish (BBHS ’49)

Born: 1932, Montreal, Quebec

Aaron Fish grew up in the blocks around Pine Avenue and St. Urbain Street. His father was a locksmith with whom he began working at the early age of nine years old. He also travelled in the summers with his uncle to sell locksmith supplies in Ontario and Quebec.

Upon graduating from BBHS Fish began working distributing locksmith supplies working out of his mother’s kitchen. He expanded quickly and eleven years later he was the largest distributor of locks and keys in Montreal.

In 1964 Fish invented North America’s first push button lock. This veered the company towards the development of new systems as opposed to only distributing locks and keys. As a result of this new direction, Fish’s company, Canadian Key and Lock Supply transformed into Unican Security Systems Limited, a world leader in key blanks, key machines, safe and vault locks, mechanical pushbutton locks, and electronic access controls.

By the late 90s,Unican Security Systems had reached record sales of almost 500 million dollars and supplied systems to high-end clients and organizations such as the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

After the company was sold in 2001, Fish went on to pursue philanthropy, founding the Aaron Fish Family Foundation, which includes beneficiaries such as the Jewish Children’s Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, and several scholarship funds for students pursuing engineering.

For his considerable business accomplishments, Fish earned a Lifetime of Outstanding Achievement award from the Associated Locksmiths of America and the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Quebec government, the Bank of Montreal and several investment firms. In 2010, Fish also received an Honorary Life Membership to the Alumni of Concordia University which is awarded annually to a non-graduate who has demonstrated a long-term commitment of outstanding service to the alumni association and/or university.

In 2007 Fish bought Capitol Industries, a fully integrated zinc die-casting operation whose main business was furniture handles. Although struggling to survive at that time, today the plant is the only furniture-handle maker of its kind left in North America. Fish has also been shepherding two other small-business turnarounds, a retirement project that Fish intends to stay with as long as he can.

Click here to see Fish’s video interview about his days at BBHS, growing up in the surrounding neighborhood and his start in business.

SOURCES AND LINKS

The Second Coming of Aaron Fish, Globe and Mail, March 2009
Under Lock and Key, Gale Johnson, June 2013