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 15 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. As President, she’s combining her financial know-how with her keen design eye to lead her residential construction company to the top in the city of Calgary, and beyond — and her journey is far from over.
My first job ever was… A registry runner for a legal firm in Kelowna – every day after school 3:30-5: 30 PM.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… When you work for yourself, anything is possible. There are no limits to what you can accomplish. I work as hard as I can possibly work and be rewarded. I can take big risks, or not. I am master of my own destiny. I can dream big and execute!
My proudest accomplishment is… I can’t narrow it down to one. Being married and in a partnership with my husband for 33 years. My three children. Creation of Rockwood and its resounding and consistent success over this past decade.
My boldest move to date was… Staying extremely focused within my niche market. I am continually presented with many different types of opportunities and projects that I could easily say yes to (and are sometimes tempting!) but would take away the strong focus on the challenging and wildly fulfilling path I have chosen for myself and Rockwood. Saying NO and having the confidence to say NO to certain potential clients/projects/media that would stray from my vision and commitment to those around me.
I surprise people when I tell them…The truth. 100% of the time.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… Educate yourself, make connections (many and often as you never know which ones will bear fruit in the long run), maintain optimism and honesty. Never betray yourself.
My best advice from a mentor was…Stay principled, stay focused and expect a strong work ethic and integrity in others. Don’t wait for change; make the change.
I would tell my 20-year old self…Expect the unexpected and that the unexpected is not to be feared.
“Stay principled, stay focused and expect a strong work ethic and integrity in others. Don’t wait for change; make the change. “
My biggest setback was…A brain aneurysm in my youth.
I overcame it by…I believed that I would fully 100% recover and not live in fear in its shadow. I had extremely good western and alternative doctors that were instrumental in my treatment and recovery. I trusted that all would be as it should be, regardless of the outcome.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… Sit down and talk more with my children, my husband, my friends. Connect more!
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know…My deep love of cats. I LOVE my cat, Orange, more than anything.
The one thing I wish I knew when starting Rockwood Custom Homes is… People will come and go. Be sure to appreciate the ones who stay; appreciate them and be grateful for their loyalty and shared perseverance to meet common goals.
I stay inspired by… World travel, connections, engagement with people, seeing life as the opportunity that it is.
The future excites me because… Everything and anything is possible. Even in a deeply challenging market or during an unstable market or political conditions. If you stay exceptional in what you do and who you are, and every day strives to be your best in all, opportunities abound.
Hear the rest of her incredible story at Following Your Passion: How to Turn a Personal Dream Into a Multi-Million Dollar Business. Join us on October 21st, along with BDC, to tap into the trade secrets and compelling journeys of three award-winning entrepreneurs who left secure corporate careers and turned hobbies and interests into a profitable businesses. Find out how they did it and how you can too. Tickets are available here.