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September 2003

Range Servant

GRN visits the Swedish headquarters of Range Servant

Jordan Knëz and his wife Cozalia were born in Slovania, and then moved to Sweden

Jordan Knëz and his wife Cozalia were born in Slovania, and then moved to Sweden in the 1960’s to take advantage of the better opportunities on offer there, both economically and socially.

Jordan has always enjoyed building things. Originally working in the packaging industry, Jordan was asked by the Tylosand Golf Club in Halmstad to build a ball dispenser as their existing one kept jamming and was generally unreliable. Jordan agreed, but on the condition that the club kept him fully informed on the machine’s reliability and performance every week. Having spent quite a lot of effort and time on this machine, he was a bit annoyed that he had heard nothing from the club for several months. Eventually, he rang the club only to discover that the reason for this was that they had not had any problems at all with the machine, and so had not needed to record any faults.

Word spread quickly throughout Sweden and soon Jordan had to leave his job to focus all his attention on range equipment – Range Servant was born.

By 1983 Range Servant was well established in Scandinavia, and without any deliberate effort their products were in demand from overseas. Jordan recalls:

“We had a request from Jersey in 1984 for a ball dispenser. It was a difficult to understand why, because we had not tried to export any of our products and had put no energy into marketing outside Scandinavia. We sent off the ball dispenser and began to look to actively export the equipment.

My previous experience in the packaging industry was invaluable. We looked at the environment in which the machines had to operate and then built machines that would reliably perform.

Obviously we looked at existing range equipment, but more importantly we listened to our customers, who wanted good quality, attractive - and above all reliable - products. Dispensers that do not jam, ball pickers that collect easily, washers that clean thoroughly – solutions for the golf range is what Range Servant is all about.”

The distinctive Range Servant N.O.P. finish is seen widely across the golf industry and Range Servant now claim to have 50% of the market in the US for stand alone ranges. Greenline products were launched last year, in particular to try to win more business from the courses in America.

Range Servant continued to export its products from its base in Halmstad, servicing the ever-growing demand. In 1989 Jordan set up Range Servant America in Atlanta. This was a very bold move, but before long major sales were achieved and this is now by far the biggest market for the company.

Jordan’s son, Elvis ran the Atlanta office in the mid-nineties and has seen Range Servant over the last two decades:

“We found we were fairly successful in supplying golf range owners with our products, but were not getting much of the golf course business. This is a huge market, particularly in the US, as most courses have a range. The Greenline products are built to the same standards as all of our equipment, but are designed specifically for golf course practice areas. We are also marketing these products more directly at golf courses rather than hoping our reputation will filter through to green keepers and course managers.”

All the products are still made in the Halmstad factory, but are sent as components to the USA and Australia where they are reassembled. This saves on freight charges and allows the quality of each product to be carefully controlled in Halmstad.

Distributors have been used in many other countries, including the UK. Until recently McArdle Golf and Leisure were the sole UK distributor for all Range Servant products. Last month Range Servant UK was launched, following an amicable agreement with McArdles, which will see Jo Cholmondely-Smith continue to handle sales and Mike Ciano looking after all maintenance and service contracts.

Folke Ekeroth, v

 

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