The construction industry is made up of an array of trades beyond the stereotypical on-the-job site roles. Today, we’re moving back into the office for our Featured Position: Purchasing Agent/Expeditor.
This is technically an “office job,” but you won’t be isolated in a cubicle all alone for hours in this career. In fact, Purchasing Agents/Expeditors are constantly coordinating with others to keep each project progressing as it should. This role often falls within the purchasing department of a construction business. But given the important role of managing what goes into every project and keeping the process on schedule, it’s no wonder that this person’s title is often referred to as “Expeditor.”
A Purchasing Agent/Expeditor helps manage the large amount of materials and manpower needed for construction projects, spanning both residential and commercial projects. Not only must he or she ensure that these things are present, but that the right people are in the right role, that every piece of equipment is in working order, and that enough supplies are available. Typical responsibilities include:
- Managing materials and supply orders.
- This management not only requires excellent organizational skills and foresight, but also strategic negotiation for the best rates and careful management of professional relationships with material providers.
- Managing subcontractors’ schedule and needed services.
- At surface level, this sounds simple: ensure on-time arrival of every subcontractor and efficient, consistent work while they’re on the job. But think about the number of people that work on the construction site. It’s the Expeditor’s responsibility to make sure there are enough people on the job and materials at the ready to stay on schedule. Oftentimes, this role is responsible for managing multiple projects at once.
But what does it take to become a Purchasing Agent/Expeditor? In this role, it’s less important to have a formal education. Instead, it’s more important to have experience in the industry. Expeditors are key to making the construction site function well, so familiarity with the materials and processes commonly used are crucial.
Expeditors have to be comfortable on the construction site. However, entry-level candidates can be considered for an Expeditor position. Those who dream of owning their own construction firm should consider making this career choice as their first step in the construction industry. Individuals interested can prepare for this position by studying engineering or completing a construction program.
No matter how a person becomes a Purchasing Agent/Expeditor, they should never stop learning, as they are leaders across many functions. In addition to on-the-job experience, most continue to learn about the industry’s products and services by attending trade shows regularly.
In addition to purposeful steps and on-the-job experience, a few soft skills are key to success:
- They should be excellent communicators. Every day, a Purchasing Agent/Expeditor must toggle between coordinating communication with their home office to the on-site construction crew, as well as suppliers and subcontractors.
- They should be comfortable with and artful in negotiation tactics. It is up to them to ensure the construction company is getting the best rates on materials and manpower.
- They should have excellent attention to detail. From interpreting blueprints to managing many schedules, there is no room for error as a Purchasing Agent/Expeditor.
If this role interests you, visit our website to learn more.