Brian Van Zyl is no stranger to challenges – and some daunting ones at that – and after a year of retirement from his role as CEO of the Sharks (SARFU), he’s ready for the next one.
Brian has joined Wakefields Real Estate on the Berea, as an estate agent, and at the end of this, his first month, he confirms he’s in for the long haul. His decision to become an estate agent wasn’t taken lightly, but he’s a long-term resident of the Berea, and importantly, he believes wholeheartedly in property: “I’ve always been involved in property. As a businessman, I bought and sold both residential and commercial as a form of investment and income. I still do.”
Prior to his 20 years with the Sharks, Brian worked for Kitch Christie, the South African rugby coach who famously won the world cup in 1995. He and his then new bride, Barbara, moved to Durban from Pretoria in the early ‘70s. Kitch was Christie’s Air-conditioning, and Brian joined him, eventually taking over the business: “My main focus was air-conditioning of course, but we owned our own building and I continued to buy property.”
So why Wakefields? Being the character he is, Brian did some homework: “I’ve followed property trends, and Wakefields stood out for me. I like the Wakefields philosophy and the way they do business. They don’t have principals running different branches – who aren’t always accountable – but rather a strong central office headed up by chartered accountants.”
Brian understands fully about branding. He was one of the drivers of the force which transformed our banana boys into the professional Sharks outfit, an extremely valuable brand recognised worldwide: “We built a powerful brand, and we were fortunate that we had good people who could see what professionalism could do for a brand.” Brian chose Wakefields Real Estate because he connects with the strength of the brand and its ethics: “Seventy five years in business. I like that. I particularly like the fact that their back-up is strong – a fact that all the agents confirm – their administration is strong, and for clients and staff, if there are any unresolved issues, you can speak to those at the top. They’re accountable.”
Brian grins, “I’m an intern, undergoing great training with staff who’ve been in the business over 40 years. I like people, I enjoy property, I’m happy with the Wakefields brand. I know success isn’t going to happen overnight, but I’m determined and I’m here to stay.”