City Employee Sells $2 Million in Surplus Property

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City Employee Sells $2 Million in Surplus Property

Posted: 11/30/2016
Tim WoodsIn 4½ years as the City of Knoxville’s Surplus Property Officer, Tim Woods has hit a major milestone: $2 million in surplus property sales.

The sales of City-owned property sometimes include some big-ticket items – a car or a dump truck. But typically, they’re small items that you might expect a local government to surplus – desks and chairs, lamps, the occasional lawn mower, or maybe a specialty item, like used sporting goods or a large artificial Christmas tree.

“I tell my customers I sell everything from a flower vase to a fire truck,” says Woods, who credits his experience – and his appreciation for the worth of second-hand items – for achieving his $2 million sales mark.

He recalls one instance where his crew brought a truckload of two stackable cabinets to the City’s warehouse. When Woods saw the cabinets, he knew immediately exactly what and how old they were. He told the crew to be careful unloading them – and he was greeted with a confused look. They only saw rusty, worthless office furnishings; but the cabinets dated back to the 1940s, and because Woods valued their uniqueness, he marketed and sold them for $400 apiece.

The keen eye and appreciation for repurposed items has been passed down to Woods by his mother, who owned an antique shop in Clinton, Tenn. Woods’ mother sold many of the antiques that are currently on display in the Museum of Appalachia.

Woods has worked for the City of Knoxville for eight years – 4½ with the Purchasing Department.

When Woods interviewed for the surplus property job, he told Purchasing Director Boyce Evans that he was confident he could do the job; Evans told him that he was probably going to need some training. Woods remembers telling Evans that he already knew how to do the job and was ready to hit the ground running.

Evans thought to himself: Either Woods was overly confident, or maybe he knew what he was talking about. It turns out the latter was right. 

“The good part for me is I don’t have to do a whole lot of looking in on Tim. In fact, I do very little,” Evans says. “That’s huge; it’s invaluable to have an employee like Tim. He’s a proactive, creative, conscientious go-getter.

“His job every day directly benefits the taxpayers. He takes very seriously his role as a steward of public resources, and the $2 million in surplus sales speaks volumes about Tim’s approach and his team’s performance.”

Woods and his crew get calls from various departments within the City to retrieve out-of-date or unused items. Woods sorts these items and sells them on, which is an online auction similar to eBay.
Bids for Woods’ items are coming from every state – and from around the world. Woods has done business with buyers in New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South America and Africa. Most of these transactions involve vehicles – outdated City fleet vehicles or cars and trucks seized through DUI or drug prosecutions. Woods works his online auctions aggressively, posting 40 to 60 pictures and a video for every vehicle he’s selling.

Woods served with Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) for 18 years. It was there that he first started selling cars on an online website rather than through the sealed-bid process that KCDC had been following. With help from Woods, KCDC implemented website auctioning. 

For the City, Woods handles 400 to 500 transactions a year, and all of these transactions are cash, check or money order. Part of his responsibility is to count the money and take it to the City’s Finance Department.

Woods takes pride in never being off a single penny in all the $2 million he has counted and earned for the City.

“I try to run it like it was my own business, and I’m going to make every dollar I can,” Woods says. “I enjoy this. I’ve had a variety of jobs, but I truly enjoy this one.”

For more details and a video about Woods and the sorts of items he sells as surplus, please click on the link to this Knoxville News Sentinel report: