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Mandir Gam is not much different for any other Gam in Navsari District. There is however one exception. It has Shree Dahyabhai Zinabhai Patel and his family who hail from the Gam and are now resident of Walsall, an important industrial city in the midlands of UK.
In this competitive business environment it is rare to see a lady winning any prestigious business award. But when one does make it usually is not from a minority community. No more. Not only has a lady from a minority community won a top award but also that she is from our own Mandhata Community. Alkaben has been a role model for a number of our people for quite a while. If you had any doubts at all set them aside for she has proved it even to the wider community in Britain. She has become an inspiration to thousands.
Read in detail her story as published in the Walsall Times.
“Alka Patel is a very rare and talented woman.
Rare, not only because few women take over their fathers’ businesses, but also because this particular company is in a very male-orientated industrial sector.
Talented, because QA Electrical Products Ltd, since coming under her control as managing director in 1994, has built on the success established by her father, Dahyabhai Jhinabhai Patel, who decided to retire after the two sleeping partners had been bought out.
Indeed, the company has gone from strength to strength and it is no wonder that Alka collected a prestigious accolade at the recent Inspirational Women Annual Dinner and Business Awards at Dudley’s Copthorne Hotel.
She was named as Walsall Business Woman of the Year, having been described as “an inspiration to any woman looking to go into business.”
QA Electrical Products Ltd was established by Mr Patel in 1971 and has its own purpose-built, two-storey factory on Premier Business Park in Walsall’s Queen Street.
With a staff of 18 people, it is one of the UK’s largest and foremost manufacturers of low-voltage encapsulated polyester resin cast electrical current transformers.
They are sold to leading blue chip manufacturers of switchgear, ammeters and power generators throughout the United Kingdom.
Additionally, the products are exported to France, Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, Malta, Singapore and Malaysia.
Between 800 and 1,000 of the current transformers are made every week in a variety of sizes, ranging from one kilogram to 20 kilograms and from 10 amps to 5,000 amps.
“Our principle has always been to produce the best quality products and provide an unbeatably fast delivery turnaround,” said Alka.
She arrived in England with her family as a three-year-old in 1959 and went to school in Wolverhampton, during which time she began to help her father in the business.
In 1974, after an arranged marriage to an Indian chemical engineer living in Canada, she immigrated to the latter country and worked in an insurance company, a legal firm and for Atomic Energy of Canada.
Her daughter Nisha was born in 1978 and the following year the family returned to settle in England. Alka and her husband have since divorced.
Alka joined her father’s business and studied electrical engineering part-time. She also completed a supervisory course at Walsall College, followed by a BA Degree in Business Studies at the University of Wolverhampton.
Upon taking over from her father she displayed immense determination in learning how to run the company.
“I have never had any problems as a woman in this business and I believe that customers respect my knowledge of the product and service,” said Alka. “We have never lost a customer among the 50 or so companies that we have sold to since 1971, although one or two have closed down or merged.”
Alka, who believes strongly in the importance of staff training, earned this accolade from Catherine Bray, adviser for women owned businesses at Black Country Chamber and Business Link, which sponsored some of the awards:
“Having taken QA Electrical Products over from her father Alka has headed-up the business through some of its most difficult years, facing a worldwide recession and increasing competition from Asia,
“She has been solely responsible for the day-to-day operational aspects of running the factory and managing employees, as well as managing clients both within the UK and internationally.
“Not only is her industry highly competitive, but it is also generally male dominated, so as a woman working within a man’s world Alka has truly succeeded.
“At nearly 50 you would think Alka is ready to slow down. However, she is now looking to invest further in the business and is looking at opportunities both in the UK and India.
“Alka is an inspiration to any woman who is looking to go into business, especially in engineering and manufacturing industries. “She is also an active member of Black Country Chamber and Inspirational Women.”
Alka is a director of Premier Business Park and Walsall Ethnic Business Association, and serves on many other social and business committees”.