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Job-seekers, Employers Connect at Goodwill Job Fairs, Despite Pandemic

When he retired from a 23-year career with the U.S. Army, former ammunition tech Roy Loudermilk thought office work sounded appealing. But after a few months, Roy’s interest in his job with an electronics company began to fizzle. 

“It just wasn’t my thing,” he said. “I really don’t like being stuck in a building all day. I like being out, talking with people.”

Roy, a married Clarksville resident whose youngest son is still in college, also was hoping to improve his income. He decided to seek job opportunities related to maintenance. 

Then his wife told him about a notice she had seen on Facebook about an upcoming hiring event at the local Goodwill Career Solutions Center. WinnCompanies, one of the nation’s largest managers of privatized military housing, was seeking maintenance technicians and other positions. 

Roy previously had no idea Goodwill provided free services to help job-seekers find employment. But he decided to give it a try.

When he arrived at the Career Solutions Center on Sept. 10, everyone was wearing masks and socially distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He met briefly with a Goodwill career coach and registered for the event. 

“Everyone was very polite and friendly when I went there — very helpful,” he said.

For years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee regularly has held in-person job fairs at its eight Career Solutions Centers — one of many free services it is able to provide the community through the sale of donated goods in its retail stores.

In recent months, career coaches have begun hosting virtual job fairs using Zoom video conferencing as well as drive-thru job fairs, in which employers greet job-seekers at their cars. The events are among several new tools Goodwill is using to help people find employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“With so many people out of work, our mission of changing lives through education, training and employment is more vital now than ever,” Matt Gloster, Goodwill’s vice president of mission advancement, explained. “We are focused on providing free services in ways that protect the health and safety of our Career Solutions clients and employees, and these new approaches give us additional tools to do that.”

Goodwill’s free job fairs also benefit employers hoping to recruit workers in Middle and West Tennessee. In 2019, nearly 3,000 people attended Goodwill job fairs, and 1,145 Goodwill clients were hired by more than 620 different companies. 

Ajax Turner, a LaVergne-based beverage distributor, has participated in several Goodwill’s job fairs at its Career Solutions Centers in Nashville and Murfreesboro since December of 2019, including in-person and virtual events. Daniel Crowder, Ajax Turner’s HR recruiting manager, learned about the events from a neighbor who works for Goodwill.

“You can’t beat it from a cost perspective. It was easy for me to sell this idea to our leadership, because it doesn’t cost us a dime other than my time to participate,” he said. “Also, it helps us from a branding standpoint to get our name out there.”

In March, Ajax Turner made a key hire at a Goodwill job fair — finding a well-qualified candidate for a difficult-to-fill repackaging position.

“She’s worked out great,” Daniel said. “We plan to partner with Goodwill for future job fairs.”

Roy Loudermilk also found success at the hiring event he attended. 

After registering, he was introduced to representatives from WinnCompanies, who had him take a written exam and perform some hands-on tasks to gauge his skills in electrical and plumbing work. After a short interview, they surprised him by offering him a job on the spot. 

Roy enjoys the variety of his new job as a maintenance technician, repairing or replacing amenities and appliances in the homes of active-duty military at Fort Campbell. Every day brings a new task and new faces. 

The job also brought a substantial raise in income for Roy and his family, including a $1,000 signing bonus. Roy says he now frequently tells other people about Goodwill’s job fairs — even posting the nonprofit’s event flyers on a local jobs chat page. 

“I definitely recommend Goodwill,” he said. 

About Ajax Turner

Founded in 1961, Ajax Turner is a multi-generational, family owned, wholesaler that distributes an extensive portfolio of beverages. They are the largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch in the state as well as other, top-selling local, regional and import brewers, premium non-alcohol beverages, award-winning wines and spirits from all over the world. For more information, visit www.ajaxturner.com

About WinnCompanies

With 3,600 team members working across 500+ locations in 23 states and D.C., WinnCompanies is the #1 manager of affordable housing and a leader in developing and managing mixed-use properties, market rate properties and military housing. winncompanies.com

Goodwill Career Solutions can help you find a job, a better job or a career. Job fairs are being scheduled regularly at all eight of Goodwill’s Career Solutions Centers.

Goodwill Classes & Training


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