CEO NEWSLETTER | May
Excellerate Property Services Continues
Excellerate Property Services (EPS), which was formed following the Excellerate Group’s acquisition of a stake in JHI Properties in 2010, is continuing on its focused, strategic growth path, says Marna van der Walt, who was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of EPS in October 2012 after being CEO of JHI Properties.
Says Van der Walt: “Over the past three years, EPS has not only capitalised on the synergies with JHI and made significant inroads into the market, but is now also moving forward into a dynamic new growth phase which encompasses the entire Group and sees us expanding our activities and presence in Southern Africa and other countries on the African continent.”
EPS has a comprehensive footprint in South Africa, with major representation in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, as well as offices and partnerships in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Ghana and Kenya. In the near future, EPS will be rolling out new offices in Nigeria, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Senegal and Côte D’Noire.
EPS incorporates the following integrated services: commercial, retail and residential property management; commercial leasing and sales broking; valuations and consulting; revenue and parking management; cleaning and hygiene services; security; catering services; repairs and maintenance services; events infrastructure; strategic procurement; development and project management; pest control; gardening and indoor plants; utility management; and a training academy.
Added Value and Cost Efficiencies
A level-three BBBEE (broad-based black economic empowerment) contributor, EPS includes a variety of integrated, property-related services which dovetail to form a full-spectrum property services group. “This enables us to provide clients not only with added value through increased cost efficiencies, but also with a complete bundled service offering which conveniently caters for all their property management and property-related requirements,” says van der Walt.
“Through leveraging on group synergies, we are able to provide market-leading, integrated service offerings at competitive costs – a key imperative in today’s challenging economic environment where rising operating costs are a factor of concern for landlords and tenants alike. Increasingly, we are finding property owners with investment portfolios of varying size and stature seeking to outsource property and facilities management to professional organisations that are proficient and experienced in providing high levels of service in a cost-effective manner. With over a century of experience, with the intellectual capital at our disposal throughout the organisation, and with our emphasis on inclusive client involvement and consultation, coupled with a flexible and innovative approach, we will be able to grow our business exponentially in the years ahead,” she says.
“Our aim is to provide a turnkey solution for clients and a ‘one-stop shop’, while achieving one standard of excellence and accountability for the Group – which can then be delivered to the same level of quality in any African country. By adhering to one technology platform and standard of quality throughout the Group, we not only add value for the client but are also able to offer a key differentiator which sets us apart in the marketplace. In addition, through the synergies of the companies within EPS, we are also able to derive meaningful cost savings by cutting out layers of cost and achieving economies of scale throughout our operation, but importantly, without comprising on quality.”
Quality assurance for the EPS Group is based on a wide range of measurements, including the implementation of the ISO 9001 2008 quality management system, policy framework guidelines and customised performance models based on continuously monitored, client-specific, service-level agreements.
Sustainable Approach Makes Sound Business Sense
EPS also takes a holistic approach to environmental planning and the balancing of social demands with environmental sustainability. In response to a rapidly growing need for environmental sustainability and energy conservation, EPS, in collaboration with Green Star Accredited Professionals, has formulated a comprehensive, but simple, ‘green strategy’ involving nine categories that impact on the environment. This strategy provides practical, applicable initiatives, with each action being evaluated in terms of expertise required, costs involved, and benefits to the environment.
One of the key factors to be considered when changing a business unit or building from traditional to sustainable is to carry out a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that investors weigh the costs of doing business the usual way or against the costs of keeping the environment in mind when conducting business. Excellerate Facilities Management believes it is imperative to consider the social implications of implementing a sustainability programme in a business and how the organisation will reap the future rewards. Previously, when an organisation was described as being sustainable, this referred to the steady increase in its earnings. However, in more recent times, sustainability of an organisation may refer to a strategy to save costs in order to drive the bottom line, thereby making sound business sense.
Hand in hand with an increasing trend towards ‘green’ building and concern for the environment, there is a concerted move towards the use of advanced, new ‘green’ chemicals in regard to products being used in the cleaning industry. This increasing demand has resulted in significant innovations, with the use of chemicals which not only work while cleaning is taking place, but also continue to work long after cleaning has stopped.
Positives in the Market
While trading conditions in the commercial property market remain challenging, resulting in muted overall growth, there are a number of factors which are having a positive impact on activity and future potential in the market. Currently managing approximately R55-billion in assets on behalf of property owners, JHI Properties has, since the start of 2013, acquired the management of 34 additional properties with a combined market value of approximately R2.7-billion. These comprise 20 retail properties, which are predominantly rural-based and in neighbouring centres, 9 office buildings and 5 industrial properties.
Says Van der Walt: “The opportunities for us in growing our business lie in the very challenges which face us: firstly, through increasing long-term building efficiencies, especially around ‘greening’ buildings for long-term operating cost savings; secondly, through increasing international interest in the South African market as we comply with international real estate regulations on the conversion of property loan stock structures to real estate investment trusts; and, thirdly, through working closely with tenants to understand their needs and provide intelligent property solutions. Further opportunities also lie in the growth of the African middle class both within and across our borders.
“Similarly, as a result of our Interpark operations, we are extremely positive about the future of Africa and the opportunities it offers, not only from our own business growth perspective but also in regard to providing technologically advanced service offerings and parking solutions in the various countries in Africa.” Currently, Interpark has over 240 contracts across South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana, with its first site in Namibia due to open in November this year (2013).
Marna van der Walt
Appointed CEO of EPS on 1 October 2012, Marna van der Walt has leadership skills that have led to her rapid rise in the property industry.
Having completed her articles at KPMG in Bloemfontein before joining Sasol as a financial accountant, Van der Walt was appointed CEO in 2003 of Sanlam’s property division, Gensec Property Services, successfully guiding the company through the merger with JHI Real Estate in September 2006 to form JHI. From then on, she led JHI forward as an empowered leader in its field, both in South Africa and on the African continent, and under her direction the company achieved unprecedented growth. This same vision sees Van der Walt steering EPS through the prevailing, challenging economic trading conditions with the aim of being the leading provider of a full spectrum of integrated property services, either through turnkey solutions or as a specialised service. EPS is a property services group that provides a wide range of integrated property-related solutions and service offerings in Africa. As a value-driven organisation, EPS strives to deliver service excellence to its clients through a holistic approach to property-related solutions and by unlocking opportunities. This is also achieved by leveraging on extensive group knowledge and experience, technical capabilities and group synergies. EPS is committed to corporate social responsibility and considers the economic, social and environmental sustainability of its actions.
“Given the broad scope of the property-related services that EPS offers, we are now strategically well positioned to grow the business in Southern Africa and also continue expanding into the rest of Africa, building on our existing operations in Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Ghana and Kenya. We are extremely positive in regard to the growth prospects presented in Africa, not only in the potential to realise sound investment, but also to become a meaningful stakeholder playing a role in regard to job creation, skills transfer and development initiatives,” she says.
In its 40-year history (from May 2007 to 2008), Marna is the only second woman to be appointed President of the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA), she is currently Director of the Board of the Property Charter Council, Vice President and Director of the Board of the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) and a member of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) International Governing Council. Van der Walt is also a member of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, Women’s Property Network and the Young Presidents’ Organization.
She has been recognised by her peers and has won a number of awards, including the Five Star Woman Award (2006), Top Woman Executive Award (2010), and South Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business & Government Award (Professional Services) (2009), as well as being overall winner of the Top Woman of the Year in Business Award (2010).
In addition to her unerring ability to fine-tune an organisation in order to maximise its skills and strengths, Van der Walt has already made a significant contribution to the property industry and it is evident that she has much more to offer this sector, the business world and EPS.
In her previous role as Chairperson of SAPOA’s Education & Training Committee, Van der Walt oversaw the introduction of the industry’s university bursary scheme for young, previously disadvantaged and deserving South Africans and its associated internship and learnership programmes, a development of which she is proud. And, through her activities and leadership, she has also contributed to a changed perception in the industry of women in the workplace and is proactively fostering a receptive environment which will see many more women excel in this challenging, constantly evolving and vibrant sector of the South African economy.
Sanett Uys is Managing Director of Excellerate Valuation and Advisory Services. She joined JHI Properties as Executive for Research, Consultancy and Valuations in 2013 and has an extensive background in property economics, research and analysis – including due diligence. She is currently national Chairperson of Women’s Property Network and is also Chairperson of the SAPOA Research Committee.
“There is an evolution taking place as women realise that there is a rewarding career in the commercial property industry, and that they can step up and move into decision- and deal-making roles. I originally worked for Standard Bank as a bank clerk, but then applied for a survey administrator position at Rode and Associates, and so began my career in property. Women bring a different dimension to the industry and, as they continue to realise and achieve their potential in the industry, I believe there will be an even bigger evolution, which will be of benefit to all stakeholders.”
Kate Wolfaardt, Managing Director (MD) of Interpark, joined the company in 1999 from a career in civil engineering which was initially part of the development team and then as Development Director – before being appointed MD six years ago. “Interpark represented an opportunity to work in a very commercial, dynamic and people-focused environment while still using my professional and technical skills. There is enormous power in business through harnessing the full potential of available people resources and talents, and this is particularly true in South Africa where our diversity creates a stimulating and exciting place to do business and enhances our international competitiveness.”
Thea Bezuidenhout, Director: Support Services for the EPS Group and MD of JHI Residential, joined JHI Properties five years ago as Executive for Support Services (IST, Human Resources, Marketing and Payroll). “About two years ago, I was given the opportunity to broaden my horizons and took on the added responsibility of managing our JHI Residential business, which focuses on property management, particularly the management of student accommodation. The property environment is dynamic, challenging and constantly evolving, which provides for constant learning and personal growth, which is exciting.”
Fundiswa ‘Fundi’ Mazibuko, recently appointed as EPS Executive: Public Sector, brings with her considerable wisdom and experience from her roles as Executive: Strategic Support for the Chief Operating Officer at the City of Joburg Property Company and as Portfolio Manager for Mdantsane City, Westgate Shopping Centre, and Ikeja Mall in Lagos. Having previously held the position of Chairperson for Women’s Property Network, Gauteng, she also enjoyed a successful career as a human resources practitioner, including launching her own recruitment company which specialised in the property sector. “I have been fortunate to have run a business and to have worked in the public and private sector. The years that I have been involved in the property industry have been defined by personal growth, and I am passionate about contributing positively to the property industry.”