All in the Wapnick family

Posted On Thursday, 06 October 2011 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Warren Buffett said that if a business does well, the stock eventually follows. For JSE-listed companies Octodec Investments Limited and Premium Properties the stock is still looking good and that’s despite the news that founder Alec Wapnick stepped down last week

Jeffrey WapnickThe company’s official media release informs us that Alec’s daughter Sharon Wapnick is taking over as non-executive chairman. It says she is “Steeped in a remarkable legacy of property skill.” Of course she is. There is something very enriching and empowering in family businesses. Alec Wapnicks business in property goes back 40 years. Alec’s son Jeffrey Wapnick is managing director.

The term PK (pastors’ kids) is often euphemistically used in some churches to describe progeny of clergymen who live in complete rebellion to everything dad stands for. Alec Wapnick’s ‘kids’ bear testament that the media release about him being a man of integrity, passion, fairness and having a strong work ethic, holds water. No PKs here.

Of course Sharon and Jeffery are hardly new kids on the block. With names in the industry in their own right, Sharon, for example, has been a non-executive director on the boards of Octodec Investments and Premium Properties since 1994! She is also partner at TWB Attorneys with “extensive experience in high profile commercial, civil and criminal litigation, as well as arbitrations.”

Although the business has broad interests across Gauteng, Pretoria clearly holds a special place for Alec: Having matriculated from Pretoria Boys High in 1949 and obtaining his BCom, graduating as a CA from Pretoria University. He first made his mark on the property industry by undertaking the redevelopment of Pretoria West, creating a productive light industrial and warehouse node for the city.

Later came the extensive involvement with the development of the Brooklyn Mall and ultimately its management. Then there was the establishment of Woodmead Value Mart, a pioneering development for South Africa which gave birth to retailers like Hi-Fi Corporation and Incredible Connection. Alec’s contribution to the city was recognised in 2003 when the Pretoria Business Chamber named him Pretorian of the year and the Tuks Alumni Laureate Award for 2008 was awarded to him by the Alumni of the University of Pretoria.

Alec also oversaw the restoration of the Tudor Chambers on Church Square in Pretoria. Restoration has been key to City Property’s work in Johannesburg too, where the company has played a pivotal role in the CBD's revitalisation. When so many businesses fled to Sandton in the 1990’s Alec and City Properties rolled up their sleeves. Over the years he has built and converted over 4,000 brand new CBD flats and, in addition, City Property manage a further 6,000 residential apartments in the Gauteng CBDs.

Alec’s City Property, a residential and commercial property management company counts two JSE-listed property investment companies as its major clients: Premium Properties and Octodec Investments. The company now employs nearly 400 people managing a portfolio of over 600 buildings. Alec considers the process of bringing these firms to a place where they could be listed on the JSE in the early 1990s and seeing them growing in assets to the value of nearly R7 billion, as one of the highlights of his career.

Reflecting the ethos of the company is the commitment to sustainable, long-term urban upliftment demonstrated by City Property’s habit of constructing residential apartments and retaining the ownership and management of those apartments.

Sharon Wapnick clearly will be carrying on the family tradition as she has proved in her role with the refurbishment of the Killarney Mall in Johannesburg. Sharon was instrumental in the recent redevelopment of the cinema complex and adjacent restaurant area for Octodec Investments whose investment is now at R33,8 million.

A sign of where the companies intentions lie is the R600 million mixed-use green-field development which City Property undertook in Hatfield, Pretoria, The Fields, which includes some 700 residential units, retail, a hotel and offices, and is situated close to the new Hatfield Gautrain Station. City Property’s press release quotes Sharon as saying: “I look forward to serving our investors and working even more closely with the respective boards as well as the team at City Property. Knowledge from a lifetime of being in a property family and experience gained will be put to good work in the continued success of Octodec Investments and Premium Properties.”

Alec Wapnick has not gone fishing though; he plans to continue to “focus on suitable acquisitions for Octodec and Premium.” Jeffery stays on as MD and now Sharon will be adding to her responsibilities the non-executive chairmanship of both Octodec Investments Limited and Premium Properties. So it’s still all in the family and looking at the trends in Jo’burg and Pretoria, full of potential in inner city redevelopment.

Last modified on Monday, 11 November 2013 12:36

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