Trying to pin Graham down is something of an art. His phone is constantly ringing and not a person can walk past without Graham asking for an update on a project.
Our 20-minute sit-down interview stretches out because of the incessant interruptions, from boilers giving up the ghost to staff rotas. But Graham wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m not one for sitting still,” he laughs, aware that he hasn’t sat still for at least 10 minutes. “There’s a lot to do and my job is to ensure everyone knows where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Of course, getting his own hands dirty is the thing he loves most and in his 11 years at Sansaw he’s managed a huge amount of change. “I came here in 2006 because there were so many projects in the pipeline, particularly the Pavilions business park, and seeing them come to fruition is a real treat,” he says.
“There are constant challenges, whether it was building the underpasses for the dairy, laying the fibre or renovating the window frames on a Victorian greenhouse, but it makes for an interesting life on the estate. I’m always on the go but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Shropshire born and bred, Graham began his career as a bricklayer in Market Drayton before joining a building firm and becoming one of the youngest contracts managers at the age of 21. It gave him the skills to build his own house near Cheswardine, although 25 years after starting he’s yet to complete it.
“It’s a labour of love,” he smiles. “There’s always something to do on it so it probably won’t ever get finished.”
Married to Helen and with three children, Graham won’t tell me his real age for fear of it being “expensive” should that information get in the wrong hands. “It’s easier not to celebrate. Anyway, I’m too busy!” Few can argue with him. There are 126 houses on the estate along with office buildings, farms and a myriad outbuildings. Two weeks ago he turned an old storeroom into an office and it’s already let.
“I usually get my own way some way along the line,” Graham chuckles. “I’m not going anywhere else. I’m here for life. But the best thing is that there’s a future for everybody.”
And the secret to Sansaw’s success? “Businesses love it here. There’s no traffic, no parking fines, high-speed broadband and landlords on site to sort things out when they go wrong. “We’re just jolly nice people.”
And with that he disappears, off to solve another problem.