Leadership profile: Sanj Kalsi

sanjkalsi

Sanj Kalsi is the new Regional Director for Birmingham and the Welsh Borders. 

He recently joined the STARK UK family from Huws Gray Buildbase, where he was Regional Director covering the Midlands area, for six years. He began his career as a management trainee at Travis Perkins, becoming a branch manager at the age of 20 and spending nearly a decade at the business. 

Sanj joined STARK UK at the beginning of 2024, reporting to Regional Managing Director Neil Grindley. 

He was inspired not just because of the Trust in Better strategy, but because of the way it is to be implemented.  

“The passion and enthusiasm shown by everyone I met during the recruitment process was infectious. 

“The strategy is all about empowering branch managers, empowering people on the front line, giving them ownership, giving them accountability, and letting them make local choices for their local market.  

“That’s exactly how I like to operate, to coach, guide and support my team to be the best they can be.” 

Career advice

Becoming a branch manager at Travis Perkins at the age of just 20, says Sanj, “enabled me to cherry pick up all the great ways of working from different leaders I had worked with, and then bring that together whilst also putting my own stamp on my approach”. 

His first business mentor, though, was much closer to home, in fact it was his own dad who guided his early leadership career.  

“My dad had always run his own business. So, I’d learnt a great deal from him about how to manage teams, treat every business like your own, take a genuine interest in the people you work with, and create a great place to work.” 

However, the best bit of leadership advice he has ever had, came from a former boss. 

“I approached the MD at the time and explained to him that I aspired to become a regional director. The advice was to do the job that you want before you get it. Think like an RD, act like an RD (within reason) and get exposure to as much of the role as possible.” 

Prioritising people

Since joining, Sanj has prioritised visiting all eighteen of the branches on his patch. 

“My priority is people. The recent changes to the business have created an element of uncertainty, but now is the time to press the reset button and move on with implementing our strategy. 

“Every branch manager, every assistant manager, every salesperson, every driver, everyone in the yard must know they have my full support and a passion to give them the tools to do the job.

But also, to make sure they know that they play a vital part in our success in delivering the strategy and growing our live accounts.” 

Sanj says there is a real opportunity to install a new winning mentality in teams. 

“Sitting and waiting for customers to come to us and going out and hunting for business is a very different mindset. By giving branches the freedom and tools to go and grow the business, we can support them with that positive change.”    

Sanj adds he has been impressed with the resilience of colleagues in the front line, particularly during the recent period of change.  

“People are still smiling and giving great customer service through some tough times, which is brilliant. We now need to get every builder in the country walking through our doors and experiencing it for themselves.” 

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