April 25

Government Surplus Trends, Plus PSATS and GPANJ Conference Highlights with Jameel Farruk

In today's rapidly evolving landscape of government operations, staying connected and up-to-date with the latest trends is more important than ever. One great way to do this is by attending government conferences. These events provide a unique platform for networking and learning. They’re places where government officials, service providers, and industry experts all come together from across the country. Municibid’s Director of Sales, Jameel Farruk, knows this firsthand and he had plenty of insight to share, proving the value of these conferences.

Fan Moment NJAC 2024

A casino employee recognized Jameel at NJAC 2024. Turns out he's a Municibid buyer and fan of the podcast!

The Power of Face-to-Face Networking

One of the primary benefits of attending government conferences, as Jameel notes, is the opportunity to connect with clients and peers face-to-face. In an increasingly digital world, overlooking the importance of personal interactions is easy. However, in-person connections are invaluable for building trust, fostering collaboration, and humanizing the relationships between service providers and government officials. Moreover, there’s a chance for encounters and conversations that would not occur in a virtual setting.

That has been Jameel’s experience while attending conferences like the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC) and the Government Purchasing Association of New Jersey (GPANJ). Both have helped the Municibid team strengthen existing relationships and forge new ones, ultimately leading to better services for clients.

"Well, we have GPAN in New Jersey, then also NJAC, and then we have customers that span all the way up and down the Northeast. I'll be heading out to the Public Works Show in Rhode Island. We have another show coming up with the Mass Highway Association. There's a lot of great things out there, and I'm just excited. This is one of my favorite times of the year."

"Sometimes when you are online and not in front of a person, you may lose sight of the humans and the team that are behind the product and the service that we're providing.” - Jameel Farruk

A Platform for Learning and Growth

In addition to networking, government conferences provide a wealth of educational opportunities for attendees. From keynote speeches to breakout sessions, these events offer a chance to learn from industry experts, thought leaders, and peers who are tackling similar challenges or vying for the same goals. 

Jameel especially enjoys the sessions at Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), which hosts thousands of people. There, attendees can learn about new policies, discuss best practices, and gain insights from their colleagues.Jameel gets to spend time with both the vendors and the customers, collecting valuable insight from both sides. He uses the conversations to hear out various “pain points” or challenges faced with intentions to figure out solutions.

“This is a conference that we've been doing well over a decade, and it's always a blast. Being a Pennsylvania-based company, we have so many customers in this state, and it's just always a really rewarding experience to be able to go and see everyone, especially see the majority of our customers all under one roof.”

He also gets to hear from government agencies and buyers about their success stories. Recently, one seller told him about a John Deere tractor that was auctioned off for far more than he expected.

“I was just talking to a customer of ours at the PSATS conference this week and he had mentioned that they had had a John Deere tractor on there that before the last two minutes of the auction, they had put no reserve on it. They didn't have a sense of what they were hoping to get and this tractor was at about $30,000. And then within the last two minutes, it quickly creeped up to about $50,000.”

“He said at that point, they would have been very happy to have let it go at that price point. And then within about another half an hour, it jumped up to a little over $110,000.” - Jameel Farruk

Discovering New Opportunities

These conferences provide a glimpse into the latest innovations and technological advancements in the government sector. From cutting-edge software to emerging best practices, these events showcase the tools and strategies that are transforming the way governments operate.

“One of the best things that they're seeing, not just in our industry, but as a whole, is that the technology and the services that people are building and providing to serve the public sector, there's no shortage of them and there's no shortage of innovation that is consistently happening in this field.” 

“Every time I go to one of these conferences, a few booths down from me or my neighbor at the conference, it'll be a new solution provider or a new technology service that I hadn't seen the year before. And it spans so many different things. Solutions that are now using your phones and the gyroscopes in the phones that DPW workers can place on their dashboard to map roads, to give real-time data back to their cities in terms of where potholes are or salt erosion is occurring.”

“And having that data in real time allows those public works to be more proactive versus reactive.” Jameel Farruk

Understanding Unique Needs

While innovation is a common theme, Jameel also stresses the importance of understanding the unique needs and resources of each agency. There are sure differences between small townships and large counties, differences reflected in what surplus they value and the general resources at their disposal. Some work with a limited staff, while others have a more robust budget and more personnel. The key to serving each of them well, Jameel believes, is for service providers to be cognizant of these factors and work as partners to find solutions. This personalized approach has led to many long-term and successful relationships.

"We have the opportunity to really determine how well we pay attention and engage. And I think that if we do our part there, we can find reasonable and extremely effective solutions to help our customers, regardless of their size, regardless of the resources that they have, regardless of their footprint." - Jameel Farruk

Building a Stronger Community

Ultimately, Jameel’s insights reveal that government conferences are about more than just networking, learning, and business development. They provide an opportunity to build a stronger sense of community within the government sector. By sharing insights, experiences, and even personal anecdotes (like Jameel’s love for the Beatles), service providers can create a more human, personal presence in the industry.

Municibid remains committed to such community building, and Jameel encourages attendees to approach him and his team at upcoming events, whether to say hello, provide feedback, or simply put a face to a name. Maybe you could even chat about your favorite Beatles song.

"It would be wonderful to shake your hand, see you again. Or if we haven't had the opportunity to meet yet, to put a face to the name.” - Jameel Farruk

Explore government surplus auctions on Municibid. If you're a municipality or school looking to sell your vehicles, equipment, and more, learn about selling your government surplus and apply for a seller account. Want to hear more cool stories from Jameel? Stay connected with Jameel on Linkedin.

Transcript »

(0:02 - 0:38)

Jameel Farruk: And this tractor was at about $30,000. And then within the last two minutes, it quickly creeped up to about $50,000. He said at that point, they would have been very happy to have let it go at that price point.

And then within about another half an hour, it jumped up to a little over $110,000. 

Narrator: Join us as we dive into the wild world of government auctions and take you behind the scenes to uncover the cool and unique ways bidders from across America are utilizing the items they've won on Municibid, like an ambulance repurposed into a work truck, to a city bus converted into an RV, and so much more. Welcome to the Municibid Podcast.

(0:43 - 0:47)

Sophie Eden: Hi, Jameel. Welcome to the Municbid Podcast. How are you doing today?

(0:48 - 0:50)

Jameel Farruk: I'm doing well, Sophie. Thanks for having me.

(0:52 - 1:16)

Sophie Eden: I'm very excited to chat with you today about all the conferences you've been to and all the ones that you have upcoming. So I understand that last week you went to PSATS. That's the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.

How did that conference go?

(1:17 - 1:43)

Jameel Farruk: You know, this is a conference that we've been doing well over a decade, and it's always a blast. Being a Pennsylvania-based company, we have so many customers in this state, and it's just always a really rewarding experience to be able to go and see everyone, especially see the majority of our customers all under one roof. So it's a really wonderful time.

(1:45 - 1:57)

Sophie Eden: And, maybe, can you give us a bit of like, what the lay of the land is like for this conference for people who have never been, but maybe are listening in from Pennsylvania and are thinking about joining next year?

(1:58 - 3:37)

Jameel Farruk: Sure. I think that one of the great things about this conference is that there's two components. We come as a service provider, so we spend our time in the exhibition hall with other vendors who are providing services across a variety of different industries that benefit various state agencies and just people who live in the state.

But for the attendees on the government side, it's a really great experience for them to do a couple of things. It allows them to connect with their peers in neighboring townships and municipalities. So it's a great place for professional networking, but also camaraderie and being able to stay connected and learn and discuss and teach one another what other municipalities, townships, and so forth are doing across the state to manage a variety of needs for their citizens.

And for attendees also, the days are consumed by educational sessions, seminars, things of that nature. So those span a variety of topics that are designed to help governments and help individuals and leadership in governments connect with one another to discuss best practices, understand new policies, and understand what pain points were brought up last year and what changes have been made or suggestions towards improvements that can be made moving forward.

(3:38 - 3:47)

Sophie Eden: And, what are some of the things that you were hearing during that conference about the state of government surplus?

(3:48 - 5:02)

Jameel Farruk: Well, I think that there's some interesting things. We have, a few years ago, obviously, when the pandemic hit, they created a lot of issues with supply chain, availability, fluctuation in the market. And we're seeing some of those things sort of begin to improve.

I would say probably some of the consistent things that we hear are that the market is still really good for certain items like vehicles. Governments are making a lot more money and the timing and the market is still in favor of selling surplus vehicles. And some of the supply chain issues are still hitting manufacturers in delivering heavy equipment and specialty equipment to particularly things like departments of public works and so forth.

So a lot of our customers there and a lot of folks that we met who have yet had the opportunity to monetize surplus online, our customers are benefiting from being able to sell, but also gain access to equipment that they're having trouble purchasing from either dealers or other areas in the private space. And new customers are seeing the value in finding a new opportunity to monetize their assets to the general public.

(5:04 - 5:28)

Sophie Eden: Are there some things that have been in place for a while for governments, maybe kind of like that's the way that it's always been, systems that are like hindering some government's ability to sell their surplus or maybe adding an additional hurdle?

(5:30 - 7:43)

Jameel Farruk: Well, I think that's a tricky question because every government agency operates with a sense of autonomy that makes them unique and their population sizes, the needs of their citizens, the infrastructure that they have or the infrastructure that they're looking for can create a diverse set of needs in that space. What I would say, however, is that one of the consistent things that we see often with governments is sometimes there is some hesitancy, sometimes there is a little bit of resistance to change management. And that can sometimes result in governments using more antiquated processes or more traditional processes to monetize their surplus, which may not necessarily be getting them best results.

So for an example, some of the customers I spoke with at this conference has mentioned the increased costs in advertising because they're using traditional sealed bids where they'll advertise something in the local paper and their community members or people who live within a specific region or distance away from them will respond making offers for those surpluses. And they're usually bound to taking whatever the highest bid is. Some of the challenges they're seeing is in those increased advertising costs, it's also paired with less circulation in the papers.

Therefore, they're not getting the highest dollar amount. And they've come to us and said, the opportunity that we've been able to capitalize with Municibid is that we can provide their surplus with much more exposure and to an audience that is broader and beyond their local reach. And that usually creates really good competition.

And they're now able to reinvest a ton of more money and resources into their communities by selling it online versus a traditional method. So I think that for those who are fully on board with what we offer and what online options can provide have really seen the benefit. And those who have some difficulties implementing that change management, it's something that we hope to be able to continue that dialogue with them and get them to understand the benefits of in doing so.

(7:46 - 8:13)

Sophie Eden: Yeah, I can definitely see with this digital age that we're in now with the explosion of social media as like new sites in themselves. These local papers being in an environment now where they're struggling on like the circulation side and the like cost management side of putting that all together.

(8:14 - 8:50)

Jameel Farruk: Yeah, I mean, it's unfortunate because there is a lot of value in having a local paper for a community. And we certainly don't want to see them struggle or we certainly don't wanna see them go away. So that's a very unfortunate thing to have to witness.

But as far as the surplus side of it is concerned, we do have a solution that we can offer to communities that have formerly relied on these media outlets to reach the population and are unfortunately struggling to get the results that they would typically have hoped for or would have gotten five, 10, 15 years ago.

(8:51 - 9:01)

Sophie Eden: That's fantastic. So looking at some of the upcoming conferences that you're going to be attending, what's next for you?

(9:02 - 12:46)

Jameel Farruk: Well, I think what's important for me, for us, and one of the reasons why we're so heavily involved in attending conferences and why we do so many of them a year is that I think they really provide us and our customers with, if I kind of had to narrow it down, probably thinking about three sort of core values or benefits. So one is the ability just to connect. So in Pennsylvania, we're one of the state's largest providers.

In New Jersey, where I'm going to my next conference for the Association of Counties and also the Purchasing Association, we have the state contract there. So we work with the majority of the state as well. And I think one of the important things about being at a conference is it allows all of our customers to be in one large room and one centralized area where we have the opportunity to communicate and connect with them, but also on a day-to-day level and on a day-to-day basis, our customers, Sophie, they are interacting with us through the platform that we provide for them online.

So sometimes when you are online and not in front of a person, you may lose sight of the humans and the team that are behind the product and the service that we're providing. So it's a great opportunity to always go out in the field and connect with people as humans and connect with them on a one-on-one basis versus just through a screen. So I think that we really find great joy, pleasure in doing so.

And with the interactions I have with our customers, I feel very positive and strongly that they feel the same way. The next thing, outside of connecting with them, there's this opportunity to learn. We here at Municibid build this platform and we build this marketplace and we do our best to accommodate our customers, their workflow, their business needs, their surplus needs, whatever you would like to call it.

But it's great to be out there and actually talk to people and understand in depth and get an intimate understanding of the pain points they are feeling, how we resolve them, areas that we can improve. So I think that's a great thing for us because it allows us to take good, real, honest feedback and then figure out the best ways to implement that back into the services that we provide, not just to improve it for the customer that has given us that feedback for all of our customers. And lastly, there's a great sense of just general opportunity in the air.

And what I mean about that is I think there's opportunity for us as an organization, as a company, but also an opportunity for our customers. For us, that opportunity comes in the ability to meet people who we haven't worked with. And instead of being over the phone or instead of speaking over email, adding a level of personality and building that rapport to see if we can also extend our services to their government agency.

And the opportunity on the other side exists for them as well, because now we have the ability to intimately expose to them and one-on-one expose to them the value propositions that we add to the marketplace and the value proposition and the opportunity we create for our customers. So it's a great feel for them to learn as well and take it back to their governments and create opportunity for their citizens by finding a newer and more efficient way to monetize that surplus.

(12:47 - 13:15)

Sophie Eden: That all sounds wonderful. So by the time that this episode is released, you'll currently be at the GPANJ conference, the Government Purchasing Association of New Jersey. Can you tell us a bit about why you're excited to go to that conference and who you're expecting to meet there and any past stories from previous years?

(13:15 - 14:45)

Jameel Farruk: Yeah, the GPANJ conference is a really fun one. They do an excellent job of making sure that the service providers and vendors have a good opportunity to connect with all of the representatives from purchasing there to make sure that we are getting a good understanding and the appropriate amount of face time really to make sure that we're getting a good understanding of how we're doing, the value that we're adding and where we can continue to grow and do better. So that is a really great conference. Another thing that I really like about it too is that PSATS is a conference with thousands of people where GPANJ is a bit more smaller, connected and intimate.

So the camaraderie there feels much more connected in its own way and it's a great opportunity for us to meet with people. But yeah, I'll be spending those days on the exhibition floor speaking with customers. There are also events that bring all the vendors and the government team members together during the day and then also after.

So it's gonna be great to meet up with some people, be able to connect with them in a networking session while enjoying some good food and just be in the company of our customers and have them be in the company of us and be able to enjoy that relationship that exists outside of just the service that we provide.

(14:45 - 14:58)

Sophie Eden: Are there some trends that you're seeing as you've been to these conferences over the years of changes that you think are very exciting for governments?

(14:59 - 16:56)

Jameel Farruk: I think for governments, one of the best things that they're seeing, not just in our industry, but as a whole, is that the technology and the services that people are building and providing to serve the public sector, there's no shortage of them and there's no shortage of innovation that is consistently happening in this field. Every time I go to one of these conferences, a few booths down from me or my neighbor at the conference, it'll be a new solution provider or a new technology service that I hadn't seen the year before. And it spans so many different things. Solutions that are now using your phones and the gyroscopes in the phones that DPW workers can place on their dashboard to map roads, to give real-time data back to their cities in terms of where potholes are or salt erosion is occurring.

And having that data in real time allows those public works to be more proactive versus reactive, right? So the technology, the companies that are out there, they're innovating at such a wild pace and technology is moving in such a beautiful favor of governments that the trend, I don't know if I would say the trend, but I guess probably my two cents and advice would be to anybody listening, especially on the government side, is that there are so many options for you out there and to be able to explore that and do that diligence and see the variety of solutions that work for you as you source your next request for proposals or quotes or things of that nature to understand what you need, there's a really great host of solutions industry-wide that are making governments smarter, more efficient, and also able to do all these things at a more cost-efficient standpoint, which ultimately benefits the taxpayer greatly.

(16:57 - 17:23)

Sophie Eden: That's phenomenal what they're doing with smartphones today, like a really incredible piece of technology with so many different applications. Really sounds like this idea of the smart cities coming to fruition. What are some of the other conferences that you have coming up in the next month or so?

(17:23 - 18:12)

Jameel Farruk: Well, we have GPAN in New Jersey, then also NJAC, and then we have customers that span all the way up and down the Northeast. So I'll be heading out to the Public Works Show in Rhode Island. We have another show coming up with the Mass Highway Association.

So there's a lot of great things. There's a lot of great things out there, and I'm just excited. This is one of my favorite times of the year.

You know, the early spring, and then also the fall into winter are the times where I'm happiest because I get to leave my desk and spend more time in the field with our customers, learning from them, and then also getting a better understanding of how we can always improve our product offering, our services, and how we can make this world.

(18:12 - 18:13)

Sophie Eden: That sounds like a lot of fun.

(18:14 - 18:56)

Jameel Farruk: Yeah, it's great. It's really fantastic. You know, some of these DPW conferences are one of my favorites because I feel like I get to work with such a diverse crowd of people.

You know, you have the person, you know, dressed business casual, walking up to you, and they're, you know, sitting behind a desk, helping make decisions that improve their community, down to the next person who's coming in in a hard hat and a vest, and they're also doing the same, and everybody's motivated towards achieving the same goal. So it's really nice to be able to have a customer set where I get to interact with people who have such a great and diverse array of skillsets and knowledge of their industries. I think it's wonderful, me both personally and professionally, and I really look forward to it every year.

(18:56 - 19:20)

Sophie Eden: What are some of the differences that you're seeing across like a small township versus like a large county, or maybe some similarities too, in how they're managing their inventory, their fleets, their equipment, and how they're going about the surplus liquidation process?

(19:21 - 21:27)

Jameel Farruk: I think that the differences are really in what the townships or the different government agencies may value. And also I think it really comes down to resources, right? So a lot of governments we're seeing now are dealing with an increased workload.

Governments are also generational. It's one of those things where you can have a mass exodus, not because anybody did anything wrong, but somebody's been there for 50 years and it's just time to hang up their hat, right? So governments do have a lot that they're juggling, and I think that some of them really need more resources and also would really benefit from a younger generation taking a greater interest in it.

But I don't think that is anything new. I don't think that's ever gonna change. Government is an evolving organism, just like any entity, whether it's public or private.

I think the good thing for us is that, and not just us as Municibid, but us as providers who work with governments is to be as cognizant, conscious, and involved in understanding that process of what it means to be resource light versus what it means to may not have time versus what a government may actually value. So I think the changes in government, there are a lot of consistencies there. I think the big thing for us as service providers is always making sure that we're listening and understanding more than just enough.

We have the opportunity to really determine how well we pay attention and engage. And I think that if we do our part there, we can find reasonable and extremely effective solutions to help our customers, regardless of their size, regardless of the resources that they have, regardless of their footprint. And we can be a partner, not just a vendor.

(21:27 - 22:08)

Sophie Eden: Absolutely, about that human connection and building a community. That's something I've heard too with some of our municipalities is how some of the surplus is sold to like another neighboring municipality and they're building that connection that they maybe wouldn't have had before. So upcoming May 1st through 3rd, you'll be at the New Jersey Association of Counties.

Are there some like fun facts or like unique stories that you've got from that conference the past years that you've attended it?

(22:09 - 24:03)

Jameel Farruk: I think something that always makes me laugh. So this conference that's coming up, it's gonna be in Atlantic City and it's being held in the casino. So there's obviously the conventions and entertainment side of the casino.

And inevitably, everybody there will always mention how they feel like when they're not here in a casino at this conference. It's during those last two minutes of the auction when they're sitting at home that they feel like they're at a sports book. For any of you listeners who are unfamiliar, at Municipate, anytime a bid occurs in the last two minutes, the auction will refresh for another two minutes.

I was just talking to a customer of ours at the PSATS conference this week and he had mentioned that they had had a John Deere tractor on there that before the last two minutes of the auction, they had put no reserve on it. They didn't have a sense of what they were hoping to get and this tractor was at about $30,000. And then within the last two minutes, it quickly creeped up to about $50,000.

He said at that point, they would have been very happy to have let it go at that price point. And then within about another half an hour, it jumped up to a little over 110. Wow.

So it's always funny, I get these comparisons where they feel like they're rooting for a horse at the end of the race or they feel like they're at the sports book in Atlantic City because sometimes in these last two minutes of an auction, the results and what you are anticipating and what you're even happy with, there's an opportunity for your expectations to be so greatly exceeded that it almost feels like that, almost feels like you're in a casino and this is gamified. So that's one of those things that always kind of makes a smile to my face and it feels pretty appropriate of a comparison when you're at a casino.

(24:03 - 24:37)

Sophie Eden: That's a really cool story. The thrill of watching a race or the thrill of watching the ticker roll on a machine and just then that final result of finding out how much it went for or if you're bitter, if you won. Yeah, that's really cool.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about these conferences that you've been to or that you're looking forward to going to next?

(24:38 - 25:31)

Jameel Farruk: Yeah, I mean, I know that at our conferences, there's been several of our customers who have come up to us or come up to me and said how much they've been enjoying this podcast series. And I think that brings a huge smile to my face because I know that this was a new endeavor for us that we were hoping would be meaningful to listeners. So it's really fulfilling and really gratifying to hear that.

So for anyone who is listening to this episode, GPANJ and NJAC, Rhode Island Public Works, whatever it may be, if you're planning on attending, please come and say hello. It would be wonderful to shake your hand, see you again. Or if we haven't had the opportunity to meet yet, to put a face to the name.

(25:32 - 26:02)

Sophie Eden: That's brilliant. Yes, absolutely, all our listeners, if you're at any of these conferences, please go say hi to Jameel. I think to end our chat today, I would like to ask you a more fun question, Jameel, if you're all right with that.

Oh, sure. All right, so you're a huge Beatles fan. So I'm curious, what's your favorite Beatles song?

(26:03 - 27:51)

Jameel Farruk: Ooh, that's a good question. So I really like the song, "'Happiness is a Warm Gun." It's an interesting song in the sense that, I think actually John Lennon was reading the cover of a magazine and it was a line on the cover of a magazine.

It might've been an issue of an NRA magazine or something of that nature. And I guess he was chuffed by the line and decided to write a song about it. But what I think I really enjoy about it is that for me, it is a testament to the Beatles that a lot of people who may be casual listeners of the Beatles are not familiar with.

The song has a variety of different parts that don't seem to make sense together, but they do for some reason. You would almost think to a certain degree that the song was comprised of a lot of independent songs. It's got incredible instrumentation and it also does a lot of the things that the Beatles do so well that I love.

Out of nowhere come in really lush and beautiful harmonies. There's a cheekiness to it, but there's a heavy rocker side of it and there's a slow, melodic, gentle side of it. It's just a really brilliant song in my opinion.

And I think it musically has paved way for so many other interesting songs like a Paranoid Android from Radiohead or even a Bohemian Rhapsody or something of that nature. Just having these songs that meld together so many different sections seamlessly. Maybe somebody had done it before, but it was certainly for me personally the first time I'd heard anything like that.

So I think that it's one that always sticks out to me as a favorite.

(27:51 - 28:11)

Sophie Eden: I'm gonna have to take a listen to that song now. That's a very striking title and inspiration story that I had no idea about. Yeah, so while you're saying hi to Jameel at these conferences, also feel free to ask him about the Beatles.

(28:11 - 28:12)

Jameel Farruk: Awesome.

(28:13 - 28:25)

Sophie Eden: Thank you so much, Jameel. It's been a pleasure today to chat with you and also looking forward to having you back on the podcast and share some more stories.

(28:25 - 28:38)

Jameel Farruk: Thanks so much, Sophie. It's been a blast. 

Narrator: Thank you for tuning in to the Municibid Podcast. If you'd like to learn more about the world of government surplus, be sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Last Updated on May 9, 2024


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