Dr Rami Ranger was working in a branch of electrical goods chain, Dixons when he had the idea for his first company. Listening to overseas customers discuss the practical difficulties of packing their purchases and sending them home, Dr Ranger saw an opportunity to offer a shipping service. It was a business concept that was ideally suited to his circumstances. “I had no money at the time,” he says. “But this was something I could start without capital.”
Launched in 1987 with an investment of just £2.00, Dr Ranger's shipping business grew rapidly and as he talked to customers, he became aware that many were interested in buying a much wider range of goods, notably food products. After discussions with suppliers, he started a second export business in 1995 to meet that demand.
Today, Dr Ranger's companies: Sea Air and Land Forwarding and Sun Mark, support thousands of British jobs and their success has been widely recognised. In 1999, Sea Air and Land Forwarding won a Queen's Award for Exporting Achievement. For its part, Sun Mark has achieved an unprecedented five consecutive Queen's Awards for Enterprise in International Trade. Dr Ranger Himself has been honoured with a CBE and then MBE.
As Dr Ranger acknowledges, receiving the awards and meeting the Queen represented a memorable milestones in remarkable business journey.
Born two months after the assassination of his father, Shaheed Nanak Singh, in the turbulence surrounding the partition of India, Dr Ranger started his life in a refugee camp. In 1971, he came to London to study law, but had to break off from his studies because of lack of funds. A series of jobs followed, including car washing, a spell climbing the management ladder at Kentucky Fried Chicken and running his own Post Office, before he arrived at Dixons.
None of this was wasted experience. Throughout his pre-entrepreneurial career, he took pride in his work and set out to do every job well, whether serving retail customers of polishing a car to perfection. “I was always very positive in my approach,” he says.
Building Blocks for Success
And it this attitude that underpin his business success. Dr Ranger says the secret of growing a company is to give customers a good product at the right price while also treating suppliers with respect. “But you also need, commitment, a work ethic, and a vision, ” he says.
And the self belief to overcome adversity. Dr Ranger cites an early experience of being turned down for a bank loan to buy a warehouse. “It was only after visiting four banks that I got the loan. It's important to keep believing in yourself and not give up.”
Dr Ranger's positivity extends to the prospects for post-Brexit Britain. “I voted remain but am very optimistic. The UK has the chance now to forge new relationships with the Commonwealth and countries such as China and, of course, the US.” he says.
As an Indian coming to Britain, Dr Ranger has been active in raising the profile of the Asian community here. His initiatives include the formation of the British Asian Conservative Link, the Hindu Forum Britain and the Pakistan India Friendship programme. On the business side, he also regularly addresses student audiences on business issues.
“When you make money you should put something back,” he says.
Dr Rami Ranger was featured in the 2017 Smith & Williamson Power 100, celebrating those who champion British entrepreneurship, created in association with Fresh Business Thinking.