CAREER DEVELOPMENT / NOV. 19, 2014
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How to Become a Builder's Merchant in the US

When one thinks of the construction industry, prominent job titles such as civil engineercost estimator and landscape architect automatically come to mind. Builder’s merchants – although they play an important role in keeping the construction industry booming – are not often easily identifiable!

Well, builder’s merchants are the entrepreneurs who supply a wide range of construction materials and equipment to property developers and construction managers. If you have a good sense of business and would love to be self-employed, this could be your job.

What Do Builder’s Merchants Do?

The primary duties of builder’s merchants include:

  • Receiving supply orders from clients
  • Providing product information to clients
  • Handling payments for all the supplied goods
  • Ensuring ordered materials and equipment are delivered to clients on time
  • Maintaining inventorying and ordering for more goods from manufacturers
  • Attending product exhibitions and trade shows to stay abreast of new construction products.

Work Environment

Being self-employed, builder’s merchants have the power to set their work hours. However, many merchants keep their businesses open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

These merchants are usually based at their business premises, where they receive and process customer’s orders. Though not mandatory, they often wear hard hats and other types of safety gear, especially when demonstrating how some products work.

Salary

What is the average annual income for builder’s merchants? Find out below:

Occupation

Average annual salary

Builder’s Merchant

$76,000

Source: Simply Hired

Entry Requirements

Before getting to the level where you can establish and run your own business, you will need to begin by working for established merchants.

So, what do you need to be hired by an established builder’s merchant?

  • A good level of education – A high school diploma is typically sufficient, but an associate degree in business or customer service can make you more suited for the job.
  • An active driver’s license.

After getting a job, your employer will take you through some on the job training to enhance your understanding of various building materials and equipment. As part of the training, you may learn how to operate warehouse machinery, such as forklifts.

Ultimately, this will help you develop the business know how, experience and expertise required to run a successful enterprise.

Important Qualities

To become a successful builder’s merchant you need:

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Good practical skills
  • A good sense of business
  • Physical stamina
  • Good math skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • A good general knowledge of building products

Career Development

With the experience gained from working under an established builder’s merchant, your next step is to launch your own business. To do this you will need:

  • Sufficient capital – to rent a business premise and purchase starting stock
  • Business permits and licenses –Requirements for starting a business vary from state to state
  • A business website

As the business gains clients, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration or merchandising to improve your ability to run it effectively.

Although there are no national associations in the US that represent the interests of builder’s merchants, develop a habit of attending building construction trade shows. You will be able to interact with property developers, some of who may be looking for new suppliers.

Useful Links

Finally, the construction industry is directly affected by the economy. When it’s booming, many people undertake building activities, meaning you will definitely make more sales. During the recession, business generally gets slow.

So if you are ready to face the ups and downs of self-employment in the building and construction industry, there is no better way to do it than become a builder’s merchant.


Image: iStock

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