Bullets and bombs
Panther provides secure transport for shipments moving between U.S. military bases.
Panther Expedited Services' exclusive owner-operator trucks continuously transport cargoes of ammunition, arms and ordinance between military installations throughout the United States. But you won't know which ones are carrying these cargoes just by looking at them.
For security reasons, these transporters and their freight are a closely guarded secret between Panther and the Defense Department.
Not just any driver can transport these items. Each is subject to corporate and federal background checks before they may be considered security cleared and registered with the Defense Department. Drivers are also subject to additional training.
'It takes about two years before a driver is ready to handle this freight,' said Chris Koehring, director of Panther's Elite Services.
Each Panther truck is outfitted with either Qualcomm or other satellite-based tracking technology to show the Defense Department as well as the company where the truck is at any moment in its transit.
On the road, drivers have access to a 'panic' button in their cabs if they suspect the load is threatened. This system will notify police in the area for the quickest response.
To transport ammunition, arms and ordinance for the military, transporters must submit to a rigorous Defense Department tender process.
'It's a very different world (from commercial transport) and a tremendous amount of acronyms are used,' said Koehring, who helped set up this service at Panther eight years ago. 'The military wants to know what you know.'
There are about 25 carriers regularly involved in the transport of this cargo, but not all of them have the ability to serve the military nationwide, like Panther, Koehring said.
To stay on top of military transport regulations and developments, Panther is a member of the National Defense Transportation Association, and participates in monthly conference calls with the Joint Munitions Commission.
Handling this business has also opened the door for Panther to handle cargoes for other government agencies, such as NASA and the Treasury Department. During the first six months of 2010, Panther's Elite Services derived 16 percent of its total revenues for the company.
This highly secured service has even attracted the attention of some commercial shippers of high-value goods and life sciences. 'They want security similar to the government,' Koehring said.