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ANKENY, Iowa — America’s trucking industry is bouncing back from the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, but freight companies need more people to help get goods to their destinations.

Old Dominion Freight Line’s Ankeny service center is hosting a job fair Saturday morning, the first time it has ever done so at its Iowa location. The company is looking to fill 40 to 50 positions, including drivers, forklift operators, and mechanics.

Service center manager Marty Pudlowski said Old Dominion had never needed to organize an open hiring event, but the surge in demand as the COVID-19 lockdowns eased up has been overwhelming for the amount of employees currently at the facility.

“40 years in the business, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Pudlowski said. “After COVID hit, it dipped precipitously, but all of the sudden, it came back precipitously.”

“Usually word of mouth is enough, but now in order to get to the next level and attract the people we want to apply, we want to open our doors,” Pudlowski continued.

A potential pool of applicants is located less than two miles from Old Dominion’s Ankeny facility.

The Des Moines Area Community College Transportation Institute has trained truck drivers for more than 30 years. Instructor Greg Christy, who is also an institute alumnus, said the current economy proves how important the profession is.

“We feel like we’re a vital part of the community as instructors, and DMACC is very committed to this program,” Christy said.

Recruiters for freight companies are a constant presence at DMACC and the institute’s job board is filled with open positions.

Christy said about half of the students about to graduate have already accepted job offers from trucking companies.

“I was looking for an in-between between not working in an office and still trying to be an entrepreneur, and trucking fit that very well,” said DMACC Transportation Institute student Andrew Arnold, who already has a job lined up after graduation.

“It’s rewarding to know that you’re needed in a job like that, to get things to people,” added classmate Tabitha Feldman, who also has a job secured after she graduates.

With Christmas around the corner and cargo ships full of supplies waiting in the oceans outside of America’s ports, Pudlowski believes Old Dominion needs to act now to find good employees to handle the rush.

“Without trucks, the store shelves would be empty,” Pudlowski said. “Here’s an opportunity for you to help us.”

Old Dominion’s job fair runs from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at 6925 SE Four Mile Drive in Ankeny. Applicants should bring their resumes to the event.