From gardener to director

2012-03-24 00:00

IT’S a home grown tale of rags to riches. This month Mduduzi Hlongwane has every reason to look back with satisfaction.

For it was patience and perseverance that saw Hlongwane (37) rise from gardener to messenger to partner in one of Pietermaritzburg’s top estate agencies.

Hlongwane from Imbali, once worked as a gardener for Bruce Campbell, the CEO of Natal Property Consultants (NPC).

“This year I can say my dream has finally come true,” he said.

Hlongwane was promoted earlier this month to director of the family-owned estate agency.

“For me it is not about being the first black partner for NPC, but this is a sign of the confidence that directors in the company have in me.”

Hlongwane says his journey to be where he is today was not easy. It took a lot of sacrifice, commitment and dedication.

“I worked for Mr Campbell as a garden boy during my high school years from grade eight until matric. And I always wished to be part of NPC,” he said.

Hlongwane said after his matric he studied business studies at the University of Natal.

However, it was short-lived because of a lack of funds due to the death of his father, Nicholas, in 1997.

His dad was a messenger at NPC for 24 years and had taught him about the job.

“The next relevant thing I could think of was to follow in my father’s footsteps and work as a messenger for NPC, and that is when I developed a passion for property sales and marketing,” said Hlongwane.

During this time, he studied part-time for a diploma in business computers. Hlongwane said his passion for selling property was also kindled by his colleagues, who encouraged him to pursue his dream.

“When you are born and bred in Imbali township there is a lot that you must avoid [and do] as a child in order for you to accomplish your dreams, like associating with the right people who will teach you to do things in a certain way,” he said.

In his 15 years of working for NPC, he left the company to work for a computer company, but after two years there decided to pursue his interest in real estate.

“It was a difficult choice to make because I had to choose between earning a basic salary to earning a commission, but my mind was made up. “I told myself that my salary would be determined by how much effort I put in,” he said.

Hlongwane said humility and his love of people had made a world of difference in his life.

“I love working with people because that is where I draw my strength from,” he said.

Hlongwane, who is single, has a five-year-old daughter, Zamangwane.

Campbell told The Witness his father, Monty — who founded NPC in 1967 — worked with Hlongwane’s father for years.

“Mdu is like a family member now and he has the knowledge for the business and he has the right approach with people, so it is only natural that he has been promoted to being a director,” he said.

Campbell said he had been impressed with Hlongwane’s work ethic. “I really rate Mdu amongst the top agents in Pietermaritzburg,” he added.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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