Monster yard sale

SNELLING, S.C. --- Von Bolin's mammoth warehouse is like a yard sale that never ends.

"Junk? None of it's junk," he declared with a broad smile. "It's like Christmas every day out here -- you never know what you'll find."

Mr. Bolin's company, BMG, is responsible for liquidating -- by whatever means necessary -- the usable spoils from Savannah River Site and its multitude of contractors.

"I sort every pallet myself, looking for the nuggets that bring the money," Mr. Bolin said, strolling aisles packed with valves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, welding gear and other items.

The multi-acre warehouse behind an industrial park in Barnwell County is the final resting place for items no longer needed at SRS -- and Mr. Bolin is the Energy Department's designee for getting rid of them once and for all.

"See these? They're Stanley Vidmar tool cabinets, one of our best sellers," he said. "They cost two grand new. We get $400."

Some of the best sellers are surplused from the site's extensive security force. There are entire pallets of Wackenhut camo, crates of "spike strips" that police can roll onto a highway to flatten the tires of a fleeing car and dozens of hand-held radios.

On one dusty shelf was an unusual foam rubber dummy filled with metal parts and sensors. "That thing's called a 'control force trainer,' " Mr. Bolin said. "They use it to show law enforcement how to handle suspects and how hard they can squeeze or twist an arm."

Other top sellers include fans, motors, water fountains, transformers, forklifts -- even armor-plated golf carts.

It is a place where cash is king and there are no guarantees and no returns.

"If it breaks in half between here and your truck, you own both pieces," Mr. Bolin said.

Proceeds go to an economic development partnership called the SRS Community Reuse Organization, which works to attract jobs to the area and lure new missions for the site.

Those revenues, after commissions to BMG, are more than $500,000 each year -- typically 60 percent to 70 percent of the organization's budget, said Rick McLeod, the organization's executive director.

The funds are used to further economic development goals. Recent projects included a $50,000 study by of the region's nuclear work force and job creation opportunities through 2020.

Surplus items are first offered to other Energy Department facilities before being conveyed to the CRO, which has its own 30-day window to use the items for job creation.

"We can't just give things away, but we can have them used for job creation and economic development," Mr. McLeod said.

One example of such a use was the donation of an old locomotive to a flooring manufacturer that relocated to Barnwell County and uses the engine to transport material.

After the 30 days, the materials are available to the public and are sold at the BMG facility, which is 45 miles from Augusta.

"It's sort of like a yard sale -- but with bigger stuff," Mr. McLeod said. "The flow of material is fairly steady. Usually it's about six truckloads a week, but it could be one or even 12."

A client who needs something in particular has to watch for it.

"We can't identify something for someone who asks us to be on the lookout for whenever they need it," he said. "There is just too much stuff."

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO

LOCATION: Bolin Marketing Group, Snelling, S.C.

HOURS: Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

DETAILS/DIRECTIONS: www.srscro.org

CONTACT INFO: (803) 541-7070 or bmgsales@barnwellsc.com

INTERNET AUCTIONS: www.govdeals.com