Apr 30 2012 By Jasmine Marsh
A SUCCESSFUL entrepreneur who set up his first business in a shed with only £2 has been awarded by the Queen for a record-breaking fourth year running.
Dr Rami Ranger, director of Greenford food shipping company Sun Mark, clinched the Queen's Award for Enterprise last week. The prize, announced on Her Majesty's birthday, celebrates top UK businesses.
Sun Mark, based in Long Drive since 2001, is the only business to have won the title for four consecutive years.
Originally from Punjab, north India, Mr Ranger, 65, battled his way to the top from poor beginnings in a refugee camp before finding a home and success in the UK. And he met the Queen in person in 2005 when he picked up his MBE medal for services to British business.
“I am very fortunate that I came to this country,” he said. “When I came I had very little, I had nothing and now I have everything. It is thanks to the British sense of tolerance and fair play, an immigrant like me can realise his ambition and become an asset to his family and his country.”
He was born in July 1947, two months after the assassination of his father, who bravely opposed the division of India between Muslims and Hindus. At the age of 24, Mr Ranger emigrated to the UK with his mother and seven siblings, to study law at university. But due to lack of financial support, he was forced to quit his studies, and began working in a fast-food restaurant for six years.
He began as a chef but the determined youth quickly worked his way up to district manager. And even in those early days, the businessman said he realised smiling and being polite to customers helped increase sales - an attitude which has served him well ever since.
“If everything was given to me on a plate even I would not improve and my business would not improve,” he said.
He then bought a newsagent's shop, until eventually setting up his first business, Sea Air and Land Forwarding, in 1987. His biggest venture Sun Mark soon followed in 1995.
The company trades household products popular in Western supermarkets, including British brands like Unilever, McVities, and Mars, to developing countries such as Nigeria and Vietnam.
The climb to the top began in his garden shed with only £2 shipping electrical goods. He then approached international companies like Cadbury and Heinz which led to an empire with a turnover of £109million a year.
When asked about what makes his award-winning business so successful, he said: “Our company is based on principles. In my life I would rather lose money then lose a customer. I can make money back again but I can’t get the customer back.”
These principles are a strong work ethic, empathy for others and commitment. He says his clients are loyal because he practises these every day.
Sun Mark jumped seven places to 25th in this year’s Sunday Times Profit Track 100 and was ranked 50th in this year’s Investec Hot 100 of leading British businesses.
Mr Ranger lives with his wife of 36 years in Northwood, Harrow, and has three daughters and two grandchildren.
When speaking of his family he said: “I couldn’t do it without the help and support of my wife, family and staff. Although Chanel handbags have given me a headache over the years.”
Son-in-law Sunny Ahuja will take over the company when Mr Ranger retires to keep it in the family name.