The Fort Hood Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation is currently holding its biannual non-appropriated funds vehicle auction. Instead of the normal live auction format, however, they are currently testing out a virtual auction through Equip-Bid Auctions.
“We changed the entire format. We went from being a hands-on, homegrown auction, where me and my employees did everything, to now we’re completely hands-off,” Mark Wilson, manager of Sprocket Auto Craft Facility, said. “Once the vehicles are staged, Equip-Bids comes down and handles the rest.”
Due to the ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19, Wilson said there was a need to change the traditional format, since each auction would normally pull in 200-250 people. Wilson said Equip-Bid Auctions has been a popular platform at other installations, so this is just a test to see if it will produce more money or if it would be better the traditional way.
The virtual auction, which can be found at https://www.equip-bid.com/auction/7578, includes a total of 77 vehicles – cars, trucks and SUVs. The auctioned vehicles have all been tagged by Fort Hood’s Directorate of Emergency Services as abandoned.
Sprocket picks up at least five abandoned vehicles every week, some in good condition, while others have been completely gutted and are found sitting on blocks. Wilson said the process of trying to find the vehicle owner, sometimes even going through a Soldier’s chain of command to find the owner, can take around a year. When the vehicle remains unclaimed after they try to find the owner, it is deemed available for auction.
Wilson admits the virtual format has been a little nerve-wracking, as they usually have the gates open for viewing weeks ahead of the auction, allowing people to provide direct feedback. He knows this format is completely different, so he does want to hear from people.
“I would definitely like them to give us feedback – good or bad,” Wilson said. “There will be some lessons learned and we’ll grow from this.”
The virtual auction opened June 15 and bidding will close at 7 p.m. July 13. Wilson said almost every vehicle already has at least one bid so far, but expects an increase of bids after people can come inside the gates and view the vehicles themselves. Viewing dates will be from noon to 8 p.m. July 8-12 at Yard 36, which is located at Clarke Road and LZ Phantom Lane. Visitors to Fort Hood must visit the Marvin Leath Visitors Center, located on T.J. Mills Boulevard, to receive a visitor’s pass.
To view the vehicles and place a bid, visit https://www.equip-bid.com/auction/7578. Winning bidders will pay online. The listings include the vehicle’s make, model and vin, as well as information regarding any known damage to the vehicle. Winning bidders may pick up their vehicle(s) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 17 and 18. If a vehicle does not run, the winning bidder must bring a tow truck to remove the vehicle from Yard 36.
Proceeds from the auction support the DFMWR activities on the installation, including Sprocket’s operational budget.