Owner-operator-heavy household goods segment could be upended by DOD transition

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15 March 2019

As reported by Overdrive last month, the U.S. Department of Defense is transitioning its household goods shipments — about 400,000 loads a year — to a single-source provider by 2021, a move meant to improve the quality of service provided to military families and to help weed out instances of potential abuse of the current system.

Few details have been announced by DOD about what the single-provider system might look like, but for carriers that operate in the segment, which is thick with small fleets and owner-operators,  the announcement has spurred a wave of unwanted uncertainty about the segment’s future.

“It has a dramatic impact on the household goods segment,” says Tim Helenthal, president and chief operating officer of National Van Lines, a mid-sized HHG fleet that operates about 300 trucks and works with about 130 agents, which are smaller, local carriers that help fulfill its orders. Carriers like National Van Lines have invested years and plenty of dollars in developing marketshare under the current system, he says.

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