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
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
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.