New column with tell-it-like-it-is insights from the viewpoint of a major homebuilder’s former buyer.
BY: BRADLEY HARTMANN
Working in the Purchasing Department at a national homebuilder is like working for the IRS. Overnight, you become very interesting to people because you control their money.
It was in late 2007 when I transitioned from project manager to purchasing manager at Pulte Homes, one of the nation’s largest builders. I was responsible for buying a handful of homebuilding labor and materials across the Midwest.
Among them: insulation, interior millwork, interior and exterior doors, trim carpentry, hardware, cabinetry, stairs and railings. Even before I got settled in my new home—the cube farm at Pulte Homes’ suburban Chicago headquarters— the phone started ringing.
A millwork guy from Michigan. Drywall gal from Minnesota. Ivy Leaguer from Illinois. Amish from Indiana. For some of these callers, I was an opportunity. A fresh start—a way to get a foot in the door.
For others, I was a threat. A frustrating change. A way to lose existing business.
Although the role was in purchasing, this was a crash course in sales. In the ensuing years, I worked with dozens of subcontractors, suppliers, and manufacturers of all sizes. I learned a great deal about products, pricing and presentations, but it always came back to the people.
The variety of people made the work fascinating; it made my job fun. Okay… the good ones did.