ROB Spanjaard is used to people asking him if he really lives in Jeffreys Bay and works in Port Elizabeth.
The Managing director of Rezco Asset Management, Spanjaard bought shares in the company in 1999 and became a partner along with the current chief executive, Wally Gray, who started the private wealth management company in 1981.
Rezco is known today as a specialised investment company, with over R1-billion in assets under management. The Rezco Unit Trust section of the business, which was started in 2004, has two unit trusts that are nationally ranked number one.
Rezco's administration office is on Cape Road, Port Elizabeth.
Port Elizabeth is "a great place to do business", he said. "Our business started in PE. All our administrative work still gets done in our Cape Road office, even though our Johannesburg office is now our head-office." Spanjaar is currently based in the US, where he is taking care of foreign investors and affiliated businesses based abroad, but he calls Jeffreys Bay home. When he is in South Africa, he commutes between the company's Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg offices.
"I have lived all over the world and don't really consider the commute to our PE office as a far distance, even though most of people living in PE think a trip that takes more than 10 minutes is too far.
"I like the quality of life in Jeffreys Bay. In terms of my business dealings, it doesn't really matter where I live because I can fly anywhere in the world that I need to go."
Similarly, clients of Rezco are also from across South Africa and world, Spanjaard said, with a good few being well-known businesspeople living in Port Elizabeth.
Clients either come directly to Rezco or get referred via their financial advisors who are attracted by the consistent long-term investment returns offered. "It takes a while to get credibility and for people to start realising your company's worth.
"We manage to get good investment returns for our clients by preserving capital when the market falls and making more money when it rises," Spanjaard said.
He moved to Port Elizabeth in 1991 from Johannesburg – where Spanjaard had previously run a unit trust for a large institution.
He started Sovereign Foods with Charles Charlewood, a local Port Elizabeth businessman.
Being modest about his role in setting up this well-known business, Spanjaard listed the company in 1995.
"The chicken industry is quite a tough industry but we had the highest profit margin in the country for a long time. We just focused on keeping the costs low and running the business according to a good financial structure and sound business practices," he said.
Spanjaard started working at Rezco full-time in 2004 and sold his interest in Sovereign Foods in 2006.