About the Author
Lizzy Craig is the Central Purchasing Systems Manager for Holiday Builders, a Melbourne, Florida-based builder that constructs between 500 and 1,000 homes per year in Florida and coastal Alabama.
How long have you been working in the industry?
My father was in construction, so I grew up around the industry and was taught the ins and outs of the industry in general. I started my career in the lending world and in 2002 started working in various departments with other new home builders before joining Holiday Builders almost two years ago; specifically, because of my experience with MarkSystems.
What was your career path to becoming a Purchasing Manager?
My journey to becoming a purchasing manager was completely accidental. I started off in the lending world and thought I might go in that direction. I was thinking of pursuing a path in sales and considered getting my license, and then I fell into a permitting role with one builder.
In 2007, when the market slipped, I ended up working in numerous positions as layoffs had unfortunately occurred. So, I was doing permitting, warranty closings, and contract reviews. I even worked in the design center area at one point. Working in all of these positions taught me that, ultimately, the purchasing department is the main source of all of those pieces. That’s where I stumbled into this position.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of your job and what do you like to do? How do you overcome it?
Consistency is the biggest challenge.
One of the things that I realized coming into Holiday Builders was that they had multiple purchasing departments that had very inconsistent setups. Now we're more centralized, which is the main reason for the central purchasing part of my title.
For all the areas in Florida, we now have the process set up so my team and I are the ones that do the day in and day out operations of purchasing in MarkSystems. As a team we’re finding better and more creative ways of making the system work across all of our regions instead of having different set-ups that are inconsistent and disorganized.
Luckily, we have the same drive in the company overall to ensure consistency across all regions. The biggest issue we have now is dealing with the old data and aligning the setup of the information that's in this system.
The only way that we overcome this challenge is by tackling one issue at a time. We troubleshoot and try to figure out what’s best method or process because in MarkSystems there is no right or wrong answer on how you set up it up. It’s flexible and you set it up to suit your business. And in our case, we’re working towards getting that consistent set-up across the company.
How have you seen the home building industry change in the last few years?
We are seeing that buyers are more into price point than they are all the ‘fancy stuff’ they want in the house. A lot of people are renting, so if they can get a house with a mortgage price at that same level as their rental, then why wouldn't they buy?
How long have you been using MarkSystems?
I’ve been using it for about four years, and Holiday Builders has been using it for five. When I first joined the company, the title on my business card was IHMS Systems Manager.
What is the feature that you can't live without and helps you be more productive?
Since purchasing interacts with a wide variety of departments, it depends on the day and it depends on the situation. If the day is taking me towards sales problems, I’m going to find or need to use certain features in the system that is focused on that area.
But overall, I would have to say that the export data section with data tables, is probably where I spend most of my time. Once you really get an understanding of that the data, it really allows you to see the most information as quickly as possible.
And then because it's in an export, and being familiar with Excel, I can narrow that information down faster than I would pulling a report or digging through different modules. Exporting data is definitely my most productive and efficient way of doing things.
What is best career advice you have received?
I would definitely say, never stop learning.
At one point, I was told if you don't know it, go figure it out. That's one of the reasons why I ended up in purchasing accidentally. Everything that I've learned from the different areas I worked in have brought me to my current position as a result of doing this. If I didn't know an answer, I asked.
What advice would you give to someone new to the industry.
Learn everything and anything that you can. Open your eyes and your ears to every question or problem that you come across because you'll find that if you understand the big picture, you'll be able to address the smaller problems or questions a lot easier.
You can push paper or enter data all day long, but if you don't understand the concept of what you're doing then it defeats the purpose.
In the same you way you should never stop learning, don't stop teaching either. I’ve heard it said that you want to make sure to keep yourself as the most valuable person in the company and don’t ‘over educate’ people. That kind of thinking ends up burning you in the long run. The more you teach other people, the more you get those personal experiences. Therefore, you're not going to stop learning because you're learning from their experiences. Now you have a better way of tackling or handling any of those questions or problems.
Do you have any specific successes you'd like to highlight?
I recently received my residential contractor’s license. In school, I wasn’t a very good test taker, so getting my contractor's license was a really big milestone for me and a hurdle I had to overcome. Anybody who knows that process, knows that there are multiple tests you have to take in addition to your field experience.
What do you like to do outside of work?
In addition to my family, anything in the arts, painting and crafts interest me. It coincides with construction and my original goal which was theater set design world.
Stay on top of industry trends and insights.
Subscribe to the Big Ideas for SMBs blog.
About the Author