Powell Auction celebrates 50th year

Sandra ClarkOur Town Leaders, Powell

Get 50 candles on that birthday cake. This year, Powell Auction & Realty LLC marks its 50th year in business.


Founded in 1972, the company has been led by Howard Phillips for over four decades. Prior to purchasing the business, Howard had worked his way up from a bag boy to a manager of the Halls Winn-Dixie grocery store (located where Sofas & More is now).

Kenny Phillips, president of Powell Auction

His son Kenny says around that same time, at the invitation of a friend, Howard went to his first live auction and later characterized it as “a night that changed my life.”

Shortly thereafter, Howard and his wife, Barbara, had the opportunity to purchase Powell Auction. They borrowed $10,000 to launch the company. (See earlier story here.)

Today, Powell Auction & Realty has grown to be one of the top real estate and asset auction firms in the industry, conducting well over 200 auctions annually in the areas of real estate, automobiles, equipment, firearms, coins and antiques. A comprehensive suite of services is offered to clients including auctions as well as traditional property listings.

Howard, now in his 80s, said, “Most companies never have the opportunity to reach this milestone and looking back at some of the things we have weathered, we know just how fortunate we are to have made it to this point.

“Barbara and I want to thank our many customers and clients over the years for their friendship and support, as well as our committed, capable employees who have helped make it happen – most especially our two sons, Kenny and Brian, who have made this business their life’s work as well.”

The company is now owned by brothers Kenny and Brian Phillips.

Both began working for their parents while in high school and have watched the evolution of the auction industry over their lifetimes.

One change came in 1988 when the company expanded to include real estate, now the largest portion of the business, in its portfolio of offerings. Another took place with the advent of online auction platforms, opening a host of new opportunities for both buyers and sellers.

The Phillipses were also key advocates with the state legislature to remove barriers that prevented the public from participating in auto auctions, and today the company auctions well over 2,000 vehicles per year.

“Without a doubt, a lot has changed over the past 50 years,” said Kenny Phillips, president of Powell Auction & Realty. “I attribute a lot of our staying power to my parents who were willing to grow and evolve as things changed over time, as well as to this community, which grew and evolved with us.

“East Tennessee has been good to us, and we’ve worked to be good neighbors to the community as well. With the support of our great customers, clients and capable staff, we look forward to 50 more years in business and to the strong future that is ahead.”

View the list of scheduled auctions or inquire about future auctions here.

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