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Allison Grafton: From Banker to Builder

A busy career in finance might not seem ideal for taking on extra-curricular activities, and yet Allison Grafton somehow found the time to manage 12 home builds and renovations while working as an investment banker. The passion that inspired this “hobby” eventually led her to change her path completely, and at the age of 40 she launched Rockwood Custom Homes. Combining her financial know-how with her keen design eye, she’s now leading her residential construction company to the top in the city of Calgary, and beyond — and her journey is far from over.



1974 – At the age of seven, Allison first discovers her interest in design when her parents build a house in Cranbrook, BC.


1975 – Alison starts her first job stocking merchandise and cleaning in her father’s drugstore. By 10, she’s graduated to running the register.


1987 – Meets her husband, Kevin, one year after graduating high school.


1991 – Graduates from the University of British Columbia, and is accepted into a Harvard University program that takes her to Nairobi to study Anthropology and Archaeology, a passion of hers. Two-and-a-half months into her African adventure, she suffers a brain aneurysm — five-days drive from the nearest hospital.


1993 – Recovered from her life-altering brush with death, Allison is working as a pharmaceutical account manager when she’s transferred from her hometown of Vancouver to Calgary.


1994 – Renovates her first home, sparking a new passion that would lead to several more builds and renovations over the next decade.


1998 – Transitions her career into investment banking, focused on the oil and gas industry.


2001 – Allison’s last child, her daughter Abby, is born. Along with a growing growing family, she has a growing career, having fully switched into investment banking.


2009 – Brings on two important members of her team: Darlene Haslam, who worked with her in her banking days as CFO; and Grainger Nimmo, who becomes her partner on her new business venture focused on luxury home building. In September, Rockwood Custom Homes is launched.


2008 – Completes her twelfth home construction project.


2014 – Rockwood creates the opportunity to build a high-end, multi-family community, and sells out within 18 months. Allison makes the top five on PROFIT/Chatelaine Magazine’s W100 Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs list — an accomplishment she’ll repeat in 2015 and 2016.


2015 – Wins the prestigious Momentum Award at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, presented by Women of Influence.


2016 – Opens a new branch of the business, Rockwood Okanagan, and is inducted into the WXN Hall of Fame after making Canada’s Most Powerful Women list four times.


2017 – Breaks ground on the Residences of King Edward, Calgary’s only luxury development located in a master-planned arts and cultural hub.