You can’t keep a good man down. After retiring from the game a few years ago, Julius Buchinsky has thrown his hat back into the ring of Cape Town business and property.
“You can only do so much gardening” says the man who brought auctioneering to the forefront of the market over the last forty years. “And your garden is only ever really for you, whereas in business, the seeds you plant can impact thousands.”
With a career that started in retail, managing the family business in Maitland in the 40’s, Buchinsky moved onto the property and sales side in the 70’s, after forming a number of successful property investment syndicates. Seeing the need for alternative ways to buy and sell property and assets, he started auctioneering, initially out of the Barclays Bank building on the old Foreshore. His first deal was for a house in Muizenberg, where the reserve price was R11k, and the highest bid on auction day was R8500. Unable to get the buyer and seller closer together, he went home that weekend frustrated, and convinced the game wasn’t for him. That Monday, sitting at his desk refreshed and recharged, he got a call from an old business colleague who’d heard about the property, and who offered R11k on the spot. The bug had bitten!
Over the years, his name became synonymous with property and auctioneering in Cape Town, and his famed glasses unintentionally became his trademark. “When my first pair broke, my optometrists had a new pair especially made up for me, and I ended up buying a few extra sets of frames. Why change what works?” After repeated requests from various attorneys and associates, he moved into stock liquidation work and business broking as well, using the network built up over the years to get good, quick sales for his clients.
“The hard part with building a business like this” explains Buchinsky “is forming some kind of critical mass – getting enough suppliers to attract customers, but having enough customers to attract suppliers.
Lessons in auctioneering
But not everything was smooth sailing. Having lived through a good number of lulls in the property market, he recalls one instance where he was ready to throw in the towel. An accountant for a newspaper at the time, phoned him up, and asked about his outstanding account, and why he’d stopped advertising. “I don’t have the money to pay for it” lamented Buchinsky, “Nobody’s buying anything.” “You can’t stop advertising, Julius” said John. “I tell you what, if you keep an advert in with us, and pay as you go, I’ll write off your account.” Writing off a few hundred rands – a serious amount of money at the time – seemed like too good a gesture to turn down, and true as Bob, the week he put an advert back in, he closed another sale.
In the past ten years, he’s also had a few instances of people taking advantage of his good nature, most notably with an assistant embezzling money on the sly. “I always try to see the best in people, and that’s unfortunately meant I’ve had to pay the price for it once or twice. But I still wouldn’t change my approach for anything.”
A man who can’t sit still, even in ‘retirement’, he’s been busy building a new business. Called the Jay-Bee Executive Card, it’s an exclusive club for individuals wanting tasty discounts from top-end suppliers – like VW, The Wild Fig, and Jenni Button, to name but a few – and for businesses wanting to access an established pool of keen customers. “The hard part with building a business like this” explains Buchinsky “is forming some kind of critical mass – getting enough suppliers to attract customers, but having enough customers to attract suppliers. The beauty of having been in various industries for the last 40+ years is that people recognise the name and face behind the business, and my reputation precedes me. Because of this, we’ve been able to ramp up to a good size (with hundreds of suppliers and customers already on board) in double-time.”
The biggest name in the auctioneering game!
He’s also cognisant of his own mortality, though. At 85, Buchinsky has teamed up with the CASA, who’ll inject some youthful energy and vigour into the various businesses. Excited at the prospect of new hands on deck, they’re re-launching into the arenas that Buchinsky is best known for – auctioneering, asset sales, and business broking. “With Julius’ name and reputation, and the modern marketing and management systems that I bring to the table, it’s going to be a wild ride” says the CA. “We’re looking to dial up the business-facing side of things in a big way, but we’re also extremely excited for the job-creation potential of the Jay-Bee Executive Card, which has the means to create an income for vast swathes of the population.” The CA will be taking the primary reins of the business going forward – Buchinsky doesn’t intend to be swinging gavels himself – but instead to sell licenses to trade.