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Partnership header Ranger talks with group of people sitting on grass
Southern Folger Detention Equipment

Don Halloran at Alcatraz cellblock
Don Halloran, President of Southern Folger Detention Equipment Company, visits the famous Alcatraz cellblock. Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks.

What The Company Gave

From 1934 until 1963, Alcatraz was home to some of the nation's most notorious criminals. The nightly sound of 600 cell doors simultaneously slammed shut was part of the punishment - a vivid reminder that they were confined.

The prison was added to the Golden Gate National Parks in 1972 and, with more than 1.4 million visitors annually, is one of its most popular visitor destinations.

Traditionally, a tour of Alcatraz included the chance to experience life in the "slammer" firsthand. The problem was, more than once, a locksmith had to be ferried from San Francisco to release the visitor "prisoners" when the locking mechanism failed to reopen the cell doors. In 1980, the Alcatraz "lockup" was suspended indefinitely until repairs could be made.

This story made its way to Don Halloran, who heads Southern Folger Detention Equipment Company, the largest prison hardware firm in the world. Halloran traveled from San Antonio, Texas, to tour the island in 2006. With Ranger John Cantwell as his guide, he learned about Alcatraz's history as a military outpost, federal prison, site of a pivotal American Indian civil rights demonstration, and national park.

"It was inspiring to see the pride and passion the National Park Service takes in this place," says Halloran who decided to become involved.

"Seventy years of salt air had taken their toll on the original locking mechanism," he says. "We knew it would be a challenge to make it work again."

When none of the original drawings of the locks could be found, Southern Folger figured out how to "reverse engineer" the parts based on the originals.

The unique contribution, valued at $200,000, was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. Back in Texas, Southern Folger employees who worked on the project were given shirts bearing the official Alcatraz insignia.

"It's been a great relationship from a business standpoint," says Halloran. "It has meant a lot to the whole company."

Why The Company Gave

"I wanted to be able to say we were part of Alcatraz's history," he says. "It's been a great relationship from a business standpoint and has meant a lot to the whole company."

"Don took an interest in our park that led him to offer a donation that was exactly what we needed," says Ranger Cantwell.

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