By Jamie Schnell

Powell Auction & Realty, LLC is celebrating fifty years in business. Howard Phillips and his wife, Barbara, whom the family lovingly call the “brains behind the table,” founded the business, now based at 6729 Pleasant Ridge Road, in 1972.

Howard told The Focus, “Children are the backbone of America” and his children and grandchildren are certainly the backbone of Powell Auction with three generations of Phillips invested in the business. Howard and Barbara’s son Kenny is president while son Brian is vice president.

Powell Auction has three buildings spanning a 12-acre property. Each building has specific auction purposes. The first building auctions real estate, farm, and coins. The second auctions cars, with one hundred and fifty plus cars sold per week. And the third building auctions equipment, such as building supplies, lawn mowers and tools. Originally selling only antiques in one location, Powell Auction expanded to a second location the early 2000s, opening at 4306 Maynardville Hwy in Maynardville, TN.

“A lot has changed over the past fifty years,” reflected President Kenny Phillips. One huge change has been how the internet has changed the way Powell Auction completes sales allowing the convenience of online bidding. “East Tennessee has been good to us, and we’ve worked to be good neighbors to the community.”

With over thirteen employees, including realtors and individual contractors, Powell Auction takes care of every aspect of an auction sale, from organizing to marketing to the final and successful auction. Company accountant Mary Anne Walker said, “From start to finish, it’s an amazing team effort.”

Executive Vice President of Real Estate Phillip Hoppers’ goal is to continue to grow real estate, surpassing their $20 million in real estate sales last year, with over four hundred parcels of land. He contributes this success to “the leadership and employees’ attitude in caring for our customers.”

Car Auction Manager Stephanie Kitts, employed there since 2003, assists in the car sales every two weeks. The company auctions over two thousand vehicles per year.

Twylia Hutchinson is the first voice the customers hear on the phone. “Taking care of our customers is number one.”

“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, who grew and evolved with us,” Kenny told The Focus. Kenny’s goal for this year is to “beat last year.”  This reoccurring goal has led the Phillips family to increase sales every year since Powell Auction has been open.

With sales across Tennessee and online nationwide, Powell Auction conducts over two hundred real estate auctions, in addition to their automobile, firearms, equipment, antiques, coins and personal property sales.  Brian Phillips proudly told Knox Focus, “We can sell the earth and everything on it.”

“Barbara and I want to thank our customers and clients over the years for their friendship and support, as well as to our committed, capable employees who have helped make it happen,” Howard said, adding, “Mostly our two sons, Kenny and Brian, who have made this business their life’s work as well. We look forward to fifty more years in business.

“As a family, we’ve been lucky.”

To inquire about or to view a list of upcoming auctions, visit