“It’s about investing properly in communities in terms of people, too.
“I have a finger in all of those pies, I’m interested in everything we do.
“Of course we’re also here to survive and be viable. When we set up we secured £250m funding from partners including the Nationwide Building Society. We have got to pay that mortgage and each stream has got to be efficient to pay that.
“We could just collect rents but we believe we’ve got an obligation to help our communities. We work in some of the most deprived communities in England and Wales - hence the reason why we invest heavily.”
That he loves his job is evident - but he’s not alone.
The Sunday Times poll said staff reported low stress, 73% of the workforce voting the company “positive”.
Walk into the reception area of Coast & Country’s Dormanstown HQ and you are, indeed, greeted by a friendly smile.
It is pleasantly pink and there’s an information voiceover playing in the background - interestingly, the accent is very definitely Teesside as opposed to one of those placeless voices. It is refreshing to hear.
Iain and his team were “chuffed” with the survey results.
“For 530 staff to say they are really proud to work for the company and in what we are doing is great.”
Our interview takes place on the day the Government announced an ease in the planning laws in a bid to aid more new developments.
Is Iain in favour?
His answer is mixed. It is, he says, going to take more than that to solve the housing crisis.
“The devil is going to be in the detail,” he says.
“There’s no doubt there is a massive housing crisis in this country when it comes to affordable housing.
“There’s no real concerted plan - how is that going to go forward?
“There’s a lack of confidence in the economy, a lack of available mortgages.
“We’ve got to get away from that British perception that if you don’t own your own home, you have failed.
“We can provide good quality, well managed housing - in many European countries, that’s a given.”
He’s also got a salvo to fire at the Right To Buy scheme - first aired under Margaret Thatcher to give council tenants the opportunity to buy their homes and recently revitalised by David Cameron’s Government.
“In the early days it gave a lot of people their own home, but in the longer term it reduced supply,” says Iain.
“The Government says for every one sold there will be a replacement one provided.
“ I think the last one sold for £17,000 - tell me where you can build a house for that money?”
Supporting local communities is something he feels strongly about, both when it comes to regenerating areas and helping people find affordable homes to live in.
He’s also very proud of how far the company has come.
With 1,000 new homes in the pipeline and development sites under constant review, it’s a rolling programme.
“I’m not just proud of one thing,” he says.
“When the company was first set up, we moved over from the council and had to stand on our own two feet, we had to get more businesslike.
“I’m proud of the fact we’ve got a regeneration programme.
“I’m also proud of the fact we set up a new company and have started to develop and build.”