building a dream

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

The woman who is touted in property circles as the next Pam Golding "didn't have a property sales streak".

Devastated but determined to prove her manager - who fired her just after six weeks into her new job - wrong, Wendy Machanik set out to build her empire.

The chairman and founder of Wendy Machanik Properties, started her career as a property canvasser with Aida Geffen Properties in 1974. She was immediately given the chance to try her hand at being an estate agent.

She says: "I sold my first house in Parkhurst within an hour of opening the show house, at a record R50000 more than the mandate of R40000. I made R1125 in commission, which was a lot of money back then."

Two years after joining Aida, Machanik had made her mark in the property industry and was head-hunted by Dawn Dorfman, where she worked for 12 years.

Armed with years of experience and a passion for the property industry, she joined Kees Groenendyk - but her dreams were almost crashed when she was fired six weeks into her job.

"I was devastated to be told that I didn't have a property sales streak. I was told that property was not for me and I would not make it," she recalls.

She went back to Dorfman and within one month she and her team had sold 10 houses.

"I was determined and on a mission to prove to myself and my former manager that real estate was for me and that I had the passion for it."

In October 1989 Wendy Machanik Properties was born. With no capital to invest in her dream, Machanik took out a R150000 access bond on her house, which was worth R350000 at the time.

Almost 20 years after WMP opened its doors, the company now has branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Randburg, and has sold over 22000 houses and spent R5million on advertising.

Apart from the house she lives in, Machanik now owns four business properties, and a high season timeshare, which she uses for 10 days each year.

"The man who told me I would not make it could not face me for years," she said.

Machanik believes people's lives revolve around home ownership, and finds it fulfilling to help people find their dream homes.

She says: "It's a noble job to put a roof over someone's head, and I still visit people to see if they are still happy with their homes."

The birth of two grandchildren, Bianca and Dylan, has taught Machanik to strike a balance between her professional and private life.

"It's difficult to juggle family and work. You always have to sacrifice one for the other.

"My greatest wish is to take three weeks off. I have trained most of the people in my management team, but I still feel like I need to be there."

An antique cabinet neatly tucked away in a corner in Machanik's well-furnished Sandton office holds pictures of family and friends. Pictures of her children Nandy, late son Brandon, foster daughter Lerato Dube, and grandchildren are the main attractions.

She says: "(Lerato) reminds me all the time that I'm a Zulu girl."

Machanik's main focus is to empower other women in the property industry and she has trained many black estate agents who work at WMP.

She jogs and cycles daily, does pilates and jaro exercises.