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Truck service center earns planners’ OK

Efforts by a transport company to build a nearly $6 million service center on the city’s southwest side are rolling along.

The Fort Wayne Plan Commission on Monday approved Old Dominion Freight Line’s 70-door, 38,000-square-foot dock facility at 8231 Smith Road, off Airport Expressway. The Thomasville, N.C.-based company intends to hire 38 full-time workers, with an average salary of $61,447 annually. Positions will include supervisors, clerical, dock workers and drivers.

Philip Danner, regional construction manager for Old Dominion, said the company has new customers and is experiencing higher demand from existing clients. The business would cease leasing space in New Haven and relocate to Smith Road by early summer.

“We’re in a growth mode right now,” Danner said. “We’re very fortunate that we’re seeing this.”

The company hopes to secure a 10-year tax abatement Nov. 27 when the City Council votes on the break. Old Dominion would save $873,416 if the abatement is approved.

Old Dominion’s growth comes as the industry is dealing with a driver shortage despite the nation’s high unemployment. In the third quarter of last year, driver turnover jumped 89 percent – the most since 2008, according to the American Trucking Associations. The problem is being blamed on new regulations and job prospects in other fields.

Economists have said the situation is disturbing, particularly as the economy continues to try to claw back. They say industry executives need to increase pay. Old Dominion has done that, boosting salaries by 3 percent last September.

Old Dominion was founded in 1934 in Richmond, Va., by the Earl Congdon family. The transport company has nearly 12,000 employees nationwide.

pwyche@jg.net

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