Ashraf Mohamed Rags to Riches
1. ABOUT MYSELF
I grew up in Vrededorp better known as Fietas, Johannesburg. My father Ismail, who I fondly refer to as Ba is 93 and in excellent health and humour. My mummy Fatima was 82 when she passed on very recently. I shall always remember her fondly as the most contented woman I have ever known. I am eternally grateful to the Almighty for having blessed my parents with a good and long innings, good children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have two brothers, Yehya and Ridwaan and 4 younger sisters, Mashooda, Khatija, Shenaaz and Summaya. I grew up during the apartheid era and on reflection life was very, very tough. I say on reflection because I did not, at that time, know any other life and did not think it that tough.
My brothers and I shared a fold-out bed in our detached kitchen whilst my four sisters shared two double bunks in a tiny room that was partitioned from my parent’s’ moderate bedroom. We were one of four other families sharing one outside toilet. Having said that, I have under the circumstances, had a good childhood although I must truthfully confess I could not now possibly survive in those conditions.
2. MY FAMILY
I am happily married to Shahzia. We have three sons, Riyaaz 34, Ismail 31 and Mikhaeel 20 and one daughter, Nabeeha who is 21. My wife, Shahzia, is very involved in the administration of our businesses. Riyaaz and Ismail jointly run Polar Ice Cream. Nabeeha is in her 3rd year studying Fine Art at UCT’’s Mikaela Campus and Mikhaeel is in his 3rd year studying Business Science at UCT. I have no doubt they would describe me as the “Best Dad in the world”. It is gratifying to know that they truly mean it!
3. MY FREE TIME
I insist on having all my weekday afternoon’s free, so frankly speaking, I spend each afternoon doing what I want to do as opposed to what I have to do. I play poker at least one afternoon a week; I enjoy horseracing and own several race horses and spend a lot of my free time at the races. I have for the past four years been Chairman of Gold Circle, Western Cape Region, and continue to serve as a local and Main Board Director. I have a very busy social life and enjoy restaurants and all other forms of dining. I play squash twice a week and shopping is something I enjoy with a passion. I travel overseas at least once a year.
4. LIFE PRIORITIES
Work hard, play hard but be nice! Sincerely commit yourself to making a difference. I say sincerely because that will ensure that you remain true to your priorities.
5. THE ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT ME
The one thing most people do not know about me is indeed a question that is not easy to answer. For want of not wanting to evade the question, I would say they do not know what I am truly worth and I do not mean it in a monetary or materialistic way.
6. WHAT AM I GOOD AT?
I am really good at delegating. I am able to get the best out of others, always more that they thought they were capable of. I fully subscribe to the old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and he gains but a meal, teach him the art of rod and reel and he need never lack a meal.”
7. ROLE MODEL
I am not academically educated. I therefore have no doubt that there have been and continue to be many role models that have and continue to inspire me. It is said that: “That which is in the blood, cannot even be prayed out. Therefore, if anyone is truely worthy of being my role model then that credit must surely go to my parents who have under difficult circumstances raised me to be a true mench!
8. POLAR ICE CREAM–
Polar Ice Cream was established in 1990 and I was then a sleeping partner” legally and literally. It was an investment that went very wrong for dishonest and other reasons. I rescued the company some 18 years ago and it is now a family-owned business with manufacturing facilities in Florida, Gauteng and three manufacturing facilities in Cape Town. It would be disingenuous for me to want to solely take credit for the magnanimous growth and success of this business without unreservedly acknowledging the significant contributions of my wife Shahzia, our sons Riyaaz and Ismail and indeed our loyal staff these past 18 years. Our products are in the main aimed at the informal sector and distributed by factory shops and cash & carry wholesalers all over the country. What is very gratifying is the fact that all those that buy our products are able to earn an honest living.
9. AVERAGE WORKING DAY
I am a morning person and am at the office by no later than 07:30. I start by having a meeting with the staff of my engineering supply business called Tube-O-Flex. It is a business that distributes flexible hoses of PVC, rubber, stainless steel and associated couplings to the chemical, petro-chemical, shipping, wine and other industries in general. It is a business I founded in 1978, some 32 years ago. We are reputed to be an authority on the successful supply of flexible hoses and fittings to industry.
As mentioned earlier, my sons look after the Cape Town operations of Polar Ice Cream and whilst I am by nature a hands-on operator, I do not micro-manage any of my businesses. I am inspired by special projects and my function is to give strategic direction to our businesses. One of the many loves of my life is food and our family also owns three restaurants. I am strong on the effective administration of businesses and in this regard, I do not compromise on the administration of any of our businesses.
10. HOW LONG HAVE I BEEN INVOLVED IN THE HORSERACING INDUSTRY?
I was introduced to horseracing in 1980 by the Chairman of the Owners & Trainers, the late Harold Bowman. He was also my partner and mentor and in a syndicate acquired my first horse called Crown, a well bred horse by Royal Prerogative out of the mare Bejewel. He went to the top division and from then onwards I was hooked.
11. WHAT IS MY FONDEST MEMORY IN HORSERACING?
I have been blessed with many. I can never forget my first winner as an owner but then again every win is so very special as every racehorse owner can attest to.
Horseracing is a truely wonderful sport ensuring the employment and joy of tens of thousands and ensures much needed and significant income for the fiscus. Gold Circle is the custodian for horseracing in the KZN and Western Cape Regions. My fondest memory in racing must therefore be my election as Chairman of the Western Cape Region in 2006 and my re-election in years 2007, 2008 and 2009. I continue to serve as a local and Main Board Director.
I should like to think I have served the industry well and continue to make a difference.
12. WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON THE VODACOM JULY?
It is undoubtedly the finest racehorse day on the African continent, strongly rivaled I might add by the J&B Met.
13. WHO DO I THINK WILL WIN?
Speaking from my heart, nothing would please me more if the great Pocket Power could once again achieve the unthinkable. He is the peoples’’ champion. Speaking from my pocket, I think Noordhoek Flyer will take a power of beating!