West Coast Chain Manufacturing Co. founder W.R. Lummis invented the Original KEY-BAK® Self-Retracting Key Reel in 1948. As a switchman on the Pacific Electric Railway in Los Angeles, he saw brakemen and switchmen injured when their dangling key chains got caught on moving trains.
Lummis had an idea for a reel that would keep keys within reach at the wearer's side, safe from snagging on moving rail cars and machinery. His idea became the first KEY-BAK.
Mr. Lummis sold the first KEY-BAKs to his fellow railroaders and eventually began selling to locksmiths in the Los Angeles area. Word of mouth spread and sales continued to grow, allowing Lummis to leave his job at the railroad and devote all of his time to manufacturing the KEY-BAK in Pasadena, CA.
The company's proximity to CalTech and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories led to early adoption of new technology resulting in rapid improvements to the key reel design. The Original KEY-BAK developed a reputation as a high-quality product engineered with only the best materials.