Cathleen Lovell in the foreground and heavy machine equipment in the background on-site.

How a woman-owned small business gave new life to unused federal equipment

A civil contractor from Harrah, Wash., turned to the federal surplus program to acquire equipment for her business.


C.I. Lovell, Inc. is a small contracting business owned and operated by Cathleen Lovell in Harrah, Wash. The civil contractor offers commercial services including site preparation, habitat enhancement and road building. As a small, woman-owned business, the company struggled to afford worksite tools, vehicles and heavy equipment that could help the company grow -- until the Small Business Administration (SBA) referred Cathleen to the DES Surplus Operations Federal Personal Property Program.


DES Surplus Operations manages several programs that allow qualifying organizations access to federal surplus property.

Cathleen contacted Surplus Operations program specialist Coby Armstrong who guided her through the application process and helped her access equipment and materials that enable her company to offer services across Washington state. 

"We are so excited to be partnering with the DES federal surplus program," Cathleen said. "As a woman-owned small business, I understand and appreciate the positive impact that working with DES can bring to our company."


To date, C.I. Lovell, Inc. has spent about $8,000 in service and handling fees to acquire nearly $250,000 (original acquisition cost) worth of equipment the federal government no longer uses. The surplus equipment includes everything from two heavy-duty trucks and a bulldozer to hammers, crow bars, hydraulic jacks, a laptop computer and cold weather jackets and clothing. Those savings are passed on to the company's customers, including state and federal government agencies.

By facilitating federal property transfers to qualifying businesses and organizations like Cathleen's, DES Surplus Operations is helping disadvantaged businesses and organizations in Washington grow, Coby explained. 

"Our program continues to grow and support a larger, more diverse customer base in women-, veteran- and minority-owned small businesses, law enforcement, education and government," Coby said. "In turn we're repurposing and extending life on everything from heavy equipment to office supplies."

Learn more about Buying Surplus and the Federal Surplus program. 

How can we help you?