Estate Manager Profile: Meet Vic Bonsor

After being an Estate Manager for more than 21 years most acquaintances still see Vic Bonsor as being in the job for the rest of his days. Vic retired from those stresses at the end of 2015 and now works as Project Manager at Hillcrest Country Retirement Estate, where he also lives with his wife Judy. We got to ask Vic a few questions about being an estate manager.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ESTATE MANAGER My background is a bit varied; most of my earlier working life being in Human Resources AND I then had a stint running my own Kitchen and Built-in Cupboard business for a few years. Each of these jobs added a necessary bit of experience and knowledge needed in my next job as Estate Manager of Mt. Edgecombe Estate 1, and then on to Cotswolds Downs Estate.
What does it take to be an Estate Manager in the true sense of the word? There are many very different positions given this title. When I talk of an Estate Manager I mean the person who is given the responsibility and authority to oversee every aspect of estate operations excluding sports clubs. The incumbent is responsible for Security; Administration; Services including Financial, Electricity & Water; Insurance; Rates & Taxes; Garden/Landscape Maintenance; day to day Operations and Maintenance of the Estate. In reality it is like running a small town for owners and residents with very high expectations.
What don’t home owners/residents know about the job of an estate manager? Something most owners don’t seem to appreciate is that to be a successful Estate Manager one needs to have a fair knowledge of the general law and a number of specific Acts and Regulations. Board Members/ Trustees come and go so the Estate Manager should be the vein of consistency for the Estate.
So, in a nutshell, an Estate Manager must be a multi-skilled person, confident enough to communicate at all levels, be practical, have a fair knowledge of Finance and Legal matters, and have the wisdom of Solomon with the patience of Job. Oh! And a thick skin helps too.
what is needed for an estate to work well? I think the main thing for an Estate to run well is that it is vital for the Board to ensure all the necessary controls are in place, delegate authority and responsibility to the Estate Manager and then to give him/her full support in all endeavours. However, all of this can only work if the Board adopts the mantra; “Every decision that is taken is done by considering “what is best for the Estate as a whole in the long run.”
What do you/did you love about being an estate manager? For every especially difficult owner there are usually another 97 very pleasant ordinary people who can make the job worth doing. Fortunately, I have always been a “people person” and having worked in Human Resources accepted that conflict is normal in person to person interactions so I have always enjoyed the thrust & parry aspect of the job. Without this I would not have stayed the course. There is always an aspect of “outdoors” to the job so one is not just sitting in an office growing corns all day. I have been very fortunate that there has been an environmental and conservation aspect in the estates at which I have worked and this has been a particularly enjoyable aspect of the job.
How does it feel be to work on the developer side as opposed to the HOA side?
Well, I have only been on the other side of the fence for a short while so would not express an opinion that applies anywhere else. I have been fortunate that at all Estates at which I have worked there has always been, at the core of the Developers, a genuine desire to see the Estate succeed and be good for the purchasers as well. In my new situation I believe I can assist both parties resolve issues as they arise and so far I am enjoying this experience as well.

[ED: Thanks to Vic Bonsor for being the first manager to be interviewed, its appreciated!]

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