Your career spans many different industries, from clothing initially, to wine at Mount Rozier Estate and now to leisure property development. What have you learnt about the value of having diverse skills upon which to draw?
Working in different sectors does provide one with different skills and the ability to recognise when business is hitting a tipping point, but fundamentally business and skills remain the same across all sectors of industry. The key is to recognise opportunity and try to be in the right place at the right time – not an exact science!
What opportunities are you pursuing at the moment?
One of the most significant opportunities in South Africa right now comes on the back of the World Cup. I believe we will see a large number of tourists returning to South Africa on their annual holidays, and they will need help planning these visits back, which is why I recently launched a new business, Africa Concierge, to assist them with their planning. With my international contacts and experience this seemed an ideal opportunity. Some of them will also be motivated to invest in property here, either as a holiday home or for their investment portfolio. It is for this reason that I recently invested in a partnership with a premium realty company on the Atlantic Seaboard.
What do you hope to gain from the partnership?
We aim to become the leading realty provider within this sector, offering a full turnkey service that includes a concierge service.
You’ve enjoyed great success in your career, but there must have been tough times?
Looking back, the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome has been the downturn, dealing with the recent recession and the massive effect it had on all business, particularly the banking sector and wine industry.
What did you learn from that experience?
To be very careful about seeking flexibility and liquidity from banks, because as soon as the storm arrives the very umbrella that was given to you when the sun was shining will be demanded back. Be flexible and bear in mind that the best laid plans can come apart quickly with new exposure. Some of my most loyal agents, who had been in business for over 200 years in Europe, folded, which resulted in bad debt and exposure.
Is there a particular person or mentor you look up to or draw inspiration from, or someone who has helped you become the business person you are today?
My late father Henry who developed his own business and was highly regarded within the manufacturing sector.
What gets you up in the morning?
My Colnago racing bike for a quick spin to Hout Bay to clear my head and plan my day, or on weekends, quality time with my boys and girlfriend.