This motto is emblazoned across Sun Mark’s literature and also features prominently in Dr Rami Ranger’s office, a relative oasis of calm above the bustling distribution centre that co-ordinates the shipping of thousands of products to over 130 countries globally
Its significance goes to the heart of Sun Mark’s remarkable success, having grown from one man with a secondhand desk and a telephone back in the 1970’s to today’s multi-national concern with a turnover of over £200 million.
Setting up Sun Mark with £2 and typewriter
Ranger arrived in the UK in 1971 to study law, with the intention of qualifying before returning to India to help out his family. However, after dropping out in the first year, Ranger found himself forced to earn his fare back home, initially cleaning cars in South London, then working in a succession of roles in a KFC franchise. By the time he had been promoted to area manager, Ranger had already decided that he would not be returning home any time soon.
In 1987, whilst working as a sales rep at the electrical retailer Dixons, Ranger noticed how many products were being shipped abroad, and hit upon his breakthrough idea – to set up as a freight forwarder.“I gave everybody excellent service – that was my differentiating factor.”
Ranger began by exporting branded products to Africa, but was so successful that he soon began to expand both the scale and breadth of his operations.
The step change in Sun Mark’s business model arrived when Ranger moved into packaging. Overseas customers had wanted to buy the ‘best of British’, but branded products were becoming increasingly expensive. By approaching the manufacturers directly and negotiating deals, Ranger was able to purchase the same products without any of the attendant packaging, marketing or distribution costs. These were then rebranded with Sun Mark’s own-label names, such as ‘Royalty’, ‘Golden Country’, and ‘English Breeze’.
Furthermore, by developing strategic alliances with overseas distributors, Sun Mark was able to start building its presence with cheaper own-label products, whilst still supplying the better-known, more expensive branded goods.
“We always sought to build market presence and loyalty by giving away samples over the long-term, rather than by spending money on short-term advertising.”
This lean, low-cost business model has been the bedrock of Sun Mark’s success, with the company awarded five Queen’s Awards for International Trade over the past seven years, while simultaneously growing turnover at 20% per annum.
The five pillars of wisdom
“There are five qualities one needs to succeed – self-respect, commitment, ethics, vision, and empathy.“
Ranger has always espoused hard work and self-development, while recognising that young people require business to give them a chance – “I was helped along the way, and aim to repay my debt to society” – hence his involvement with The Prince’s Trust to help underprivileged youth. He has also been a figurehead for the Apprentice Scheme for the past 18 months, selling and promoting the benefits to employers in the food and drink industry. This ethos also runs through his own business, which actively runs the scheme:
“Apprenticeships allow you to tailor employees to your needs – in return you receive loyalty and a sense of social responsibility. The problem with employing high flyers is that they tend to fly when you need them most.”
There are numerous other good works which Ranger has initiated; the Centre for Entrepreneurs at London South Bank University (a one-year course for 30-40 students to promote entrepreneurship), the British Asian Conservative Link (to encourage political participation), and Hindu Forum Britain to name but three.
With one office about to open in Miami, to service the Caribbean market, and another being considered for the South American region, BREXIT is not set to be a limiting factor.
Indeed, guided by Ranger’s philosophy and by its customers, Sun Mark looks set to continue to forge its own destiny in the global marketplace.