Paul Visagie the legend!

Forty years ago, young Paul Visagie took up a holiday job at the Joburg Fresh Produce Market just before he was due to start university, and never left.

At the time, Paul’s father was working at Ochse Market Agents and he came to assist him during the holidays. However, he loved it so much that he decided to take a gap year and remained. He started selling vegetables and then moved on to potatoes and onions. Whenever salesmen went on leave, Paul would take over their section and that’s how he gained good experience moving from section to section selling different types of produce.  He eventually ended up selling apples and was affectionately known on the market as “Mr Apple”.

After eight months, Paul was earning a substantial salary and he knew then that being a market agent was what he wanted to do. Paul worked at Ochse for 10 years in total and during that time he became the youngest director in the company’s history at the tender age of 22.

Whilst at Ochse, Paul had a very good relationship with Mike Loutfie from RSA Market Agents who wanted him to join RSA Group. Mike often asked Paul when we would be joining RSA. Towards the end of 1988, Paul told Mike he would see him at RSA on 2 January the following year. True to his word, Paul resigned and arrived at RSA on the said date, where he has been ever since.

In his first month at RSA Group, Paul sold over R1 million in fruit compared to the R250 000 – R300 000 per month that RSA usually sold. Paul speaks fondly of Mike who had a great impact on his life. “Mike brought new life and energy to market agencies. Before he arrived, there were no systems. Mike used his marketing background to put structures in place and was pedantic about the way things were done,” says Paul.  

Whilst the art of selling fresh produce remains the same, many things have changed since Paul started as a young salesman. According to Paul, the biggest change is probably the size of turnovers. “The market and the number of buyers and producers have grown dramatically. When I started, the buyers were predominantly Portuguese buyers who owned the corner cafes or fish and chip shops. They didn’t really sell fruit in their shops, but I decided to make it my mission to get them to buy some fruit, which they eventually did,” adds Paul.

Paul enjoys the selling aspect of his job and being on the floor interacting with buyers and farmers. When asked what the most important qualities are needed to be a successful sales agent he simply answered, “Honesty, honesty and honesty.”

“At the RSA Group, we are honoured to have a team member that is dedicated and knowledgeable about the business and industry as Paul Visagie. He is charming, friendly, an excellent communicator and always positive – indeed a great example to his peers and a great asset to the group – we congratulate and celebrate him on his 40th anniversary in the business,” says Jaco Oosthuizen, RSA Group CEO.

Although Paul has been getting up before the sun rises for the past 40 years, he does not regret it for a second. “Love for the industry, dedication and hard work is what has kept me motivated and I have loved every moment of my life on the market. I would not change it for anything,” adds Paul.

In his spare time, Paul is a keen fisherman and golfer and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.