Kuhn Safe

One hundred years ago, construction began on the building in downtown Ann Arbor that is now (and has been for 25+ years) Q’s North American Headquarters. It was bought a few years later by a German-American car enthusiast, Ed Kuhn, who was the first Ann Arbor police officer to drive a motorized vehicle. When Officer Kuhn arrested a speedster for exceeding the limit (10mph), the police chief said: “There’s no way any car in this town can go faster than eight miles per hour.” Case dismissed.

Ed Kuhn left the police force and established an auto shop. He offered maintenance, repairs, tires, lubricants, and a taxi service, where our company now designs and produces messages that are transmitted through worldwide electronic networks.

The Kuhn shop’s slogan was, “Comes In All Shot, Goes Out Red Hot!” Business was good, so when Ed needed a way to keep his account books and cash in a place where thieves and disasters couldn’t reach them, he bought a safe built by Victor Safe & Lock Co., Cincinnati. Nine hundred pounds of concrete and steel with a heavy combination lock on its seriously thick door.

This past June, after many years in storage, the safe was returned to its home on Catherine Street (Thanks, Men on the Move!). The seal on the inside of its door displays a slogan that Constantine the Great saw in the sky while on the march with his army (312 CE): “With this sign you will win.”

Constantine passed this powerful slogan along to his warriors, who defeated their rivals and established a new religion in Rome. The powerful words are now inscribed in churches, monasteries, and temples throughout the world.

But words are insufficient protection against any skilled safe-cracker who might gain access to the building, easily defeat the safe’s combination lock, and abscond with its contents. The Kuhn family was lucky; their safe was never trespassed.

These days, of course, cybersecurity is on everyone’s mind. From Wikileaks to Russian hackers, we all worry about how secure (or insecure) our data is. We store our valuables and assets in digital “safes” on the internet. We use signs—letters, numbers, and symbols, i.e. passwords— as our only defense against modern safe-crackers.

To help with digital security you can use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password. They work just like a safe: you create one strong master password, and the application stores all your other passwords securely inside.

The Kuhn safe is now in our lobby. When we close the office each evening, we simply lock our door and trust that most of us are working toward the common good. But concerns about safety remind us of a fundamental Q axiom: “If you’re not worried, you’re probably not alive.”