ELAN PROPERTY GROUP
Mark Taylor describes eLan Property Group’s brand DNA as having ‘panache’ – being stylish, important and having relevance.
The Group has become a leader in property development, real estate marketing and sales, and sales of hospitality investment projects. The Group has more recently diversified into other investment opportunities. Based in Durban, eLan Property Group started off in 1997 as a small residential development company doing 70 to 80 units. The company then developed a unique model in its hospitality division; allowing existing hotels to convert their property into sectional title hotels. This was the model used with the iconic Riverside Hotel in Durban; Southern Africa’s most profitable sectional title hotel (in terms of ROI) and a true eLan success story.
With the success of sectional title beginning in South Africa, eLan had room for growth. Just after the turn of the century, the company identified some farms on the KZN coast, just north of Ballito, which Mark Taylor believed had investment potential. This investment was done on the expectation that the old airport would move to the North Coast. The Simbithi Eco Estate was then established and became the fastest selling gated community in South Africa. Some 200 housing opportunities were sold out in nine and a half years with partners at the time – WBHO. The success of Simbithi resulted in the creation of Blythedale Coastal Estate, which is characterised by golden beaches, indigenous coastal forest and pristine river frontage.
Development director, Andrew Thompson, says, “Our group is identified by making destination type developments, mixed use developments and large-scale developments that combine residential, commercial, and leisure facilities.”
“What I really believe about our company is the vision of Mark Taylor. His vision has the ability to empower people to drive in sales, marketing and strategy. vision really drives our passion at the end of the – creating destination developments in unique places,” says Eugene Boniface.
The eLan Property Group’s leadership is comprised of a group of special people who are empowered do their own thing and are brilliant at their jobs – go out and do their entrepreneurial innovative thing. They are paired with committed, innovative employees, ensuring a successful formula for the Group. “is really, hopefully, what we have done right as business,” says Mark. There is no autocratic approach to leadership, management team meets collectively and chats about projects, allowing for the creativity that contributes towards the vision of the developments. “We gel really well as a group, everybody has a say, which is amazing,” says marketing manager Eugene Boniface.
“Our team is flexible, innovative and one of the finest in the world. But this can only happen when you are free thinking, and everyone has the ability to contribute,” says Mark. “Free thinking comes from the fun aspect of the business,” he continues. “We have the ability to fly in helicopters, go in yachts and boats and our experiences shape our business.”
eLan Property Group is a fantastic company to work for,” says Ish Bugwandass, the company’s senior graphic designer. “The company is energetic, vibey and driven from the top down. Consequently, there is a dynamic approach to the way employees work and everyone is interactive.” Cobus Naude, financial director, added, “This has been a really exciting journey. Understanding human beings and their strengths and getting the best out of that individual all the time, as well as growing the individual is one of the key areas identified under the leaders’ team responsibilities.” “We get behind the team in every aspect. You feel empowered to take on things that are bigger than you. I love that vision, not only on the hospitality side but also on the development side. A combination of those makes us an extremely unique company and a great company to work for,” explains Eugene. “The trick really is to find the right people in the right positions. And I think that is what we have really done,” says Mark.
“eLan’s clients buy into something where there is an expectation of lifestyle, an expectation of security and most certainly an expectation of return on investment.” “The family is growing and growing, it is such a nice position to be in where people trust you, like your integrity and like the way that you deal with them on a one on one basis.”
eLan Property Group has facilitated developments in excess of R2 billion, however any investment must be long lived. Consequently, eLan has always applied the philosophy of including other developers in their initiatives. The North Coast would not be where it is today without Palm Lakes, Dunkirk, or Zimbali. Working hand in hand with these developers, the eLan Property Group has successfully marketed a fantastic destination between Durban, Richard’s Bay and King Shaka International Airport. “What we have learnt through the eLan experience is how to polish a gem and the gem at the present moment is certainly the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. eLan intends to capitalise on development and add value,” says Andrew. One of the important aspects of developments such as Simbithi and Blythedale is how eLan has affected communities positively through skills transfer, job creation, and small business opportunities. Simibithi currently provides employment for 500 people who are part of the community.
A Simbithi Country Club representative had the following to say, “They love their employment, they love their work and it is just such a friendly environment. It is absolutely awesome to witness.”
Another success has been in making the annual eLan Cup a memorable race and event day. It’s incrementally being established as Durban’s go-to event for relaxed, sophisticated fun.
One of the eLan Property Group’s strengths has been the ability to adopt new green technology in developments. eLan intends to come up with a unique model in South Africa, which will be available to other developers in the country.
New opportunities in Mauritius have just opened doors for the company and its clients, with access developments and other partner developers. eLan is at the forefront of pioneering. They constantly whatever we do now – what is it going to look like in future?