Guests are Army veterans, Wendy Way and Isabel Garcia Schmitt who have started their own moving company called LOGSA Milmoves.
Wendy: Army veteran, mom of 5 girls. “My career is like a jungle gym because I re-invent myself every 2-3 years. I always had the itch to be an entrepreneur, and then I met the right partner– Isabel.”
Isabel: Former Army officer, multiple moves including overseas, I have 11 moves experience. We knew we wanted to do something for our veteran community, and we started this company to help get things done.
DoD Updates: We are still in a conditions-based phased moving, which means both the gaining and losing installation must meet guidelines in order to PCS. When you get orders, start working on the ETP (Exception to Policy) just in case it becomes necessary.
DoD says movers should be wearing face masks and wiping down surfaces. This is a requirement to keep service members safe. If you have issues, call your Move Coordinator or Transportation Office to rectify the situation.
No-fee passports are currently taking 2-4 weeks. Tourist passports are getting held up and delayed. It depends what center your application went to, because the centers are doing a phased re-opening as well. OCONUS assignments should expect these delays and be prepared to work through them. Here is more info from the DoD passport office.
Tell us about LOGSA Milmoves, and the motivation to start this company:
Wendy and I met 20 years ago in ROTC as Cadets. We went our separate ways and reconnected at Irwin. Wendy has a Lean Six Sigma blackbelt, so she is very organized and good at operations of businesses. I specialize in customer service and marketing. We started by working on a sub-contract at Fort Irwin, and realized there were opportunities to help veterans and elevate our community.
LOGSA Milmoves is Logistics Support Allies. We have a passion for creating opportunities and problem solving in the military moving community.
How do your operating practices differ from standard military movers?
We have been really fortunate to work with a consultant in the moving industry. We have met with a variety of people to elevate the industry. We are building a model that doesn’t currently exist because the industry desperately needs help during the peak moving season. This is on TRANSCOM and how they have the moves set up to all happen during peak season. We help support that peak volume. Once agents are filled, they black out their schedule, and we become the ones who are trained and can alleviate that burden.
They are looking for improved communication between the families and the movers. We call families and let them know who is coming and when to expect them.
We focus on quality in alignment with AMSA (American Moving and Storage Association) standards. We are building additional training in ethics and on-the-job training with our folks to go into homes.
Access is a huge problem because movers often have criminal backgrounds and can’t get through base. Our people will have base access and background checks. We will be complimenting the moving industry and helping them.
Tell me what new standards you want to bring to the industry?
The issue with the moving industry, and the reason they are moving to a single source, is because there is a minimum standard. Those things aren’t happening, even though the industry is trying to meet an increase in quality. That’s why we want to partner with agents on the ground who have a thirst for what we are providing. We know they run out of people and individuals to work during peak season. There are yearly employees, but they add contractors during peak season. We provide an untapped resource–the military spouse. They come with base access, and we will give our own background checks. Every military base has their own access rules, so we can provide both extra people and access. We are working with agents so they can take on extra work they would have had to turn away. We get to start a company and hire military spouses, while elevating the industry by providing quality personnel and training. We are working with LaborNet, something that has come up so that our folks are screened in a way that will allow them the proper access. We can train with them, and then our individuals will move to additional installations and take the initiative with them there.
You are focused on hiring military spouses and veterans. Why is that important?
I encourage any entrepreneur to use their small business development center. It’s a secret sauce to military spouses and veterans. This is our community, why not elevate those folks who are operating in it? We have seen both sides of the moving industry, and this is how we want to educate spouses to help them get the best of both worlds. We have to address the problem of military spouse unemployment: it was 24% pre-pandemic! We can be part of their journey at one installation, or we can be their journey as they travel to other installations. The military family can take care of the military family.
What do you want families to know about the back side of the moving industry?
One of my jobs is to take the pulse of the industry to figure out what we need to focus on in training. You need to understand you have to advocate for yourself first. Are you doing everything you need to do to make the move go well. For example, stories of movers packing trash: are you following the directions of the pre-move meeting where they tell you to wash dishes, take things off walls, and doing your prep work?
How does furniture get destroyed during moves? Well, the moving company wraps it, but then when the driver picks it up, they own the blankets, so he takes them off your stuff. The storage unit will re-wrap it, but you will never meet them or see them. If another driver comes and picks them up, it will be unwrapped and re-wrapped again. So you may have 3 different crews wrapping and touching your stuff, just for a standard move.
During peak season: if you’re moving mid-July or August, that’s when the claims go up exponentially. There aren’t enough bodies to help with the moving process, so we help elevate the process and improve the moving experience. We want to simplify and streamline the experience. This model will support people who want part-time or full-time employment when they want it.
Who is ultimately responsible when moving companies put things in storage, and it is damaged somewhere during the process?
When you file a claim, the Transportation Service Provider (TSP) has to determine when the damage occurred. They will recoup some cost from the moving company, the driver, etc, but you don’t see that side when you file your claim.
Where are you located if people are interested in joining?
We are at Fort Stewart Georgia and Fort Bragg NC to get started. We want to learn more about the industry before we expand. We eventually want to move into loading, warehousing, line haul, the whole thread. We want to get our reputation solid this season. We want to align, talk to, and subcontract with whoever is chosen by the DoD as the single provider. We want to pay well to get high quality flexible work. We want to employ our spouses and veterans and give them opportunities. You don’t build a pyramid from the top down. At the top, you don’t always see what trickles down. We want the spouses, veterans, and our local partners to know that as LOGSA Milmoves opens up, we have a grand vision for future opportunities. We want to provide franchising opportunities. We train people at Fort Stewart, then they will get orders, and we will help them franchise and build their own teams at new bases. We have allies in the industry, and we are building.
Links and Resources:
LOGSA Milmoves: LOGSA Milmoves on Facebook, or www.LOGSAmilmoves.com
Words of encouragement to the military community:
Use your resources! We have learned so much from when we first started. Instead of wondering why they packed our trash, we realized we should take out our trash. Movers are trained not to question, just to pack everything people own. Advocate for yourself. Find your person who will help you and be with you throughout the moving process. Take care of your bandwidth–you only have so much of yourself to give. Advocate for yourself that way. Don’t give away more than you have to give away.