In celebration of international women’s day, we interview the former and first female MLA president Val Stokes (Dennis Security) about her experiences within the locksmith industry and how she got into it.
The Master Locksmiths Associations First Female President
About MLA First Female President Val Stokes
Val Stokes served as the MLA’s first female President from 2004-2008.
Now an honorary MLA member and treasurer for its London region, she remains involved with the Association to this day, actively participating in regional meetings in the South East and helping to organise the MLA Expo 2021 in October – the UK and Europe’s largest locksmith exhibition.
She got into the locksmithing industry via her father, Dennis, who founded Dennis Security in Walthamstow in 1959, and was a member of the MLA Board.
Val trained in medical research while her husband sold commercial vehicles however, he joined the family businesses following the financial crisis in 1980, and after its rapid growth, Val followed with a role in the office shortly after.
Four decades on, newly retired Val is proud to have passed the third-generation business onto her children and son-in-law who now head up the family firm.
Working out of her father’s former premises, her son, an MLA-approved member, oversees the company’s team of engineers.
Her son-in-law manages the shop while her daughter ensures the business operates efficiently and profitably.
Some people are surprised when I tell them I’ve spent the last 40 years working in the locksmith industry as it isn’t considered to be a typical female occupation however, there’s no reason at all why they can’t do it.
In fact, we have access to more sophisticated tools and equipment nowadays so the physical strength that locksmiths once needed is no longer a barrier.
“I’ve enjoyed very good relationships with other locksmiths over the years who have respected me and valued my opinions. I remember when I still worked,
I felt like I was able to gain the trust of female customers that called in and I truly believe women have a host of skills that suit the nature of the industry
They tend to have a natural empathy for people, are often brilliant communicators and are adept at managing their time, all the traits that make excellent business leaders.
“I definitely feel there’s a place for more women in the industry and I’m proud that my daughter is playing an active role in the family business.”
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