How The Horak Clan Came To Be
Some of you know us, some of you think you know us and some of you have never even met us. What you do all know is that the Horaks run a family business together, called Cape Holidays. And we like to be known as The Horak Clan. Why? You’ll get the idea…
Where The Horak Clan All Started
The business today is a far cry from the small Local Eye where it all started.
I’ll try not to bore you as I explore the journey of our growth and the dynamics of working with family.
Growing up I always knew two things- never live on debt and always be your own boss. (For the sake of brevity, and our story today, you can assume my folks taught me many other valuable lessons too.)
My parents strived to be their own boss and worked hard for many years to ensure we were looked after and comfortable. They were at the top of their game running 3 stores of the same franchise for most of my school career.
No, they didn’t follow me to Cape Town
It was no surprise they were ready to leave Gauteng and enjoy lazy mornings near the ocean once I matriculated. (No, they didn’t follow me to Cape Town. They waited at least 4 months. And thought Simonstown was far enough away to throw me off.)
The plan was to settle down and take things easy. Elmarie had sold properties for many years and couldn’t wait to fall back into real estate. Johan would continue expanding his knowledge and help others with marketing and developing their business ideas.
I was at UCT studying Theatre and Performance. We were all just happy.
And then BOOM. The financial crisis of ’08.
Homes weren’t selling, businesses weren’t growing, and unfortunately, I still had 2+ years of my degree left to complete.
We had to do something and Johan and Elmarie were stuck in Simonstown.
Now, Simonstown was never the right choice for my parents, but at the time we didn’t really have a clue.
The Horak Clan’s Saving Grace
Little did we know that this sleepy village would be our saving grace.
Elmarie moved away from large home sales and started a tiny side business called Local Eye, where she would keep a ‘local eye’ on properties for owners in the area- check the mail, check for leaks after rain, basically ensure everything was still a-okay. Turns out many homeowners in Simonstown are smart, or rich enough, to not have this be their primary residence.
Local Eye blossomed into rentals, where instead of just managing the place, she could also make some money for the owner.
Slowly but surely word got out and the business started to grow at a pace that needed all hands on deck.
Christmas Was A Snack On The Go!
That holiday season saw the 3 of us cleaning homes. Christmas lunch was moved to a snack on the go. Boxing Day was us packing a picnic and cleaning houses between guests departing and arriving.
Coming back to our saving grace- Simonstown happened to be devoid of a good marketing and management company. Elmarie was the go-to person for Simonstown, then Fishhoek, then Noordhoek. By the time we started rolling over to the Southern Suburbs Johan realised he had to put his skills into Elmarie’s little business. He created a website, the name was changed to something appropriate – Cape Holidays. I mean, that’s pretty great for a holiday company working in Cape Town I think.
The Mad Dynamics: The Horak Clan
So here we are in 2010 and Johan and Elmarie find themselves working together again as partners. If you have met them both, you’ll know they are pretty different humans.
Johan takes a relaxed approach and sometimes works from his laptop on the bed or from his phone on the couch. He is always learning about something new and testing out ideas to improve the running of things.
Elmarie must be seated at a table and works almost 24/7. You’ll often find her replying to emails at midnight. She has her daily routines and keeps us all in check. It’s like chalk and cheese.
It’s a mad dynamic, but somehow it works.
Theatre Is Not Paying Bills
I finally graduated and was a qualified actor in 2011. And hey, theatre is fun but it’s not paying the bills.
Elmarie and Johan decide that my soul is fulfilled, but my wallet is empty so I better hop on board and get us some more houses.
With a growing portfolio and great relationships with local agencies, we find we have a steady stream of guests wanting our assistance. And let’s be honest, we don’t want to clean toilets and change bedding on Christmas day if we can help it.
For The Horak Clan, To Be The Best Does Not Mean To Be The Biggest!
We realise now we need to have a bit more structure. We have always said we want to be the best at what we do, and we don’t need to be the biggest to do that. But we do in fact need some staff.
We start hiring people to assist with management and cleaning.
Side note. When Elmarie and Johan sold their stores in Pretoria they were ready to say farewell to ever having staff again. I am sure many of you know the complexities involved with hiring people to work for you. You need to train them, trust them, rely on them.
Between 2012 and 2021 we saw our fair share of staff and what a difference a decade, and experience, makes.
The Horak Clan Did It Together
The three of us has cried, laughed, fought, teased, travelled, learnt, and lost. But we’ve always done it together.
Since its inception in 2009, we have grown as a company and also as a family. In all honestly, it is not easy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way; they are my clan.
If you want to hear more about “The Horak Clan” antics stay tuned. We have some crazy stories to share in the next few months.
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You won’t regret it!
A Member Of The Horak Clan.
P.S. I had no choice. Or did I?