SUNNY SIDE - Gary Sampley
Legend Nominee: Gary Sampley
It has been stated that the power of influence is initiated through sheer presence; not during any specific time frame or age, but rather a result of positive impact(s). Such significant impressions have the potential to build an imprint on one’s individuality that can extend a lifetime. Developing a mindset to seek out tangible morality created on the basis of hope and optimism is born from a life of integrity and moral principles.
Owner operator, Gary Sampley is much more than a seasoned contractor. He is an influencer, representing a network of hardworking professionals within an industry in dire need of productive role models. An Air Force veteran, he dedicated 13 years of active duty serving overseas tours throughout Europe, Italy, Turkey, and Germany. For the first deployment, he was stationed in England with a Security Police Unit assigned as P.A. Security Service’s liaison providing security for dignitaries. Gary returned home to the states in 1992, after the first Gulf War, then enlisted as a Reserves member for an additional 6 years while stationed in his home state of Missouri, at Whiteman Air Force Base.
He began cross training out of the security field into operating heavy equipment, leading up to tractor-trailers, preparing his transition with a new trade from military service to civilian life. Although Gary was grandfathered into the trucking industry, he had obtained his chauffeur’s license years prior to joining the service at the age of 16. His experience running tractors and combines derived from his time managing a 700-acre farm, as young as 12 years old.
With his CDL in tow and 26 years of driving experience in the trucking industry, he continues to add to an already impressive record of 3.4 million miles. A clean record, zero accidents or violations has earned Gary several awards in recognition of his safe driving. Also a 20-year member of OOIDA, he prides himself in the work ethic he demonstrates as a professional business owner. Currently leased on to H&M Trucking, Inc., based out of Omaha, Nebraska – Gary pulls a bulk hopper trailer transporting goods over-the-road in a 2012 Freightliner Coronado Glider.
Joining the driving force of H&M Trucking back in 2010, his admiration for the contract carrier company is evident in his loyalty to the driver-based operation. Including his experience pulling heavy equipment and low boy trailers during his time in the military, he has since expanded into flatbedding, step deck, refrigerated, dry van, and liquid tankers; taking into account his extensive background in the business, Gary’s credentials are highly-valued as an asset for any trucking company. While the opportunities have played in his favor, he declares H&M Trucking the best fit for him due to the quality of influence available within the company.
Identifying strong leadership as a virtue in which to improve and gain knowledge early on – as a young impressionable farm boy, eager to earn his keep he adhered the guidance of his mentors – pursuing each career move with that perpetual mindset, Gary appreciates his team of leaders at H&M Trucking. Stating,
“One of the main strengths here at H&M is the fact that we are led by fantastic people. Our Executive Vice President, Dale Cook is consistently involved with the drivers. He wants to know how he and the company as a whole are doing, and how they can improve. That says a lot about a company, to me. I think the world of our owner, Randy Mueller. He enjoys talking with new hires, introducing himself face to face, discussing the company, and letting everyone know that he has an open-door policy at all times. Demonstrating that no issue at-hand is too minor to warrant his attention. The dispatch department are easy-going and incredible to work with. It all starts from the top and that truly makes a difference in the entire flow of dynamics. They all treat you like you’re a part of something great… because here at H&M Trucking, you are! This company is a great example of what the industry should be about, and I am proud to work here.”
In addition to Gary’s outline of experience, he is also a well-established writer who published his first book in 2019, featuring his good friend and fellow driver, Jimmy Ardis. Jimmy is the first amputee in the trucking industry to drive over 5-million accident and violation free miles throughout his 44-year career as an over-the-road driver.
What originally began as a form of self-expression on behalf of his trucking community, he felt a need to make his opinion known and join those standing up for the rights of all professional truck drivers. Over the course of time, his actions evolved into a productive means of communication through written letters sent directly to a congressional committee. Stepping into the defender role, advocating in light of transportation laws and legal issues associated within the trucking industry, Gary’s passion to promote safety, equality, and respect has landed him on several platforms as the voice of many.
Unintentionally seeking the representative position, his most substantial and meaningful role is being a husband and father. Pamela, his wife has traveled the world with him – tying the knot 36 years ago in Sedalia, Missouri, the newlyweds were transferred to Sembach, Germany. The couple share one son, Alec – who began his adventures in the semi-truck as young as 18 months. Gary remembers riding with his grandfather, who drove for Greyhound over 33 years. As they intermingled among many faces and sites, city after city, 5-year old Gary was hooked.
Originally born in Tennessee, Gary grew up in Illinois, the second oldest of four children. He landed a job working for a local farmer and family friend, helping tend to a grain farm. He remained the farmer’s right-hand until he graduated high school, then relocated back to Tennessee, settling for work in construction. Wanting a career comprised of travel and exploration, he narrowed down his job search. Fascinated by flight; air planes directed his attention to one particular branch of service.
Calculating that his best bet at globe-trotting would be through serving in the U.S. military, he joined the Air Force at 18 years old, and set his sights on working abroad. Although he landed what felt like worlds away, his home training never departed. Explaining,
“The gentleman I worked for on the farm growing up, played a huge impact on my life… back then and still today. He was a great mentor, his work ethic revealed the key to achieving success, and he gave some of the best advice. I remember him telling me to always work hard and don’t ever expect anything to be given to me. Only determination will get me where I want to go… his words alone have helped carry me through some serious learning curves.”
SERVE & UNITE
Once out of the military, the Sampley family prepared to plant roots in Tennessee, as Gary landed a full-time position as a police officer with the Tracy City Tennessee Police Department. Less than two years later, he made his final career move – returning full circle – as the road of discovery continued to beckon. He opted to make use of his CDL and hit the road. The first trucking company Gary landed with was a small flatbed outfit, located in Missouri. Testing the waters running long-haul, a year later he committed to a larger corporation pulling dry van. Two years in, he transferred to their refrigerated division traveling a dedicated lane from Nebraska to New York City for another five years.
Wanting to try his hand at hauling specialized loads, Gary purchased a step deck trailer and switched to a carrier transporting large tires throughout Alaska and Canada from 2004 to 2010, before making his way to H&M Trucking. His advice to new drivers coming into the industry is to research trucking companies that fit properly into your personal lifestyle. It’s important that the company of choice meets your needs, otherwise you will find yourself back at square one in as little to no time at all. Whether your priorities begin with home-time at the top of your list or amount of pay, however your preference – the pivotal details should benefit the driver financially, not bear weight on his or her relationship, but ultimately improve their overall driving career.
Gary elaborates on the subject; to succeed as a professional truck driver, it’s imperative to partner with a good trucking company. But not just any company – look at their turnover rate. Take into consideration if you find yourself asking, Why is it so high? Once you have established your footing, get to know the people in the office, build relationships – all of that matters. Also, maintaining a strong reputation for providing excellent customer service becomes your trademark.
“Set goals, then achieve them… because this can be a very rewarding career. I personally view it as an extension of my service with the military. Both are very much needed by our country, and I am able to provide a level of service that I know is making a difference. You always want to look at it like, how can I leave a camp site a little cleaner? What can we do that will help make things better down the road? It’s the little things, but each one of us have to join in and do our share. That is why I’m so passionate when I write to Congress and speak on shows within our trucking community – I have spent my own hard-earned money on purchasing trucks in order to make this career my livelihood – it’s how I provide for my family. Just like the rest of the men and women in trucking. We are invested in this industry, and we simply want things to go right… to be treated right.”
BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE
What makes an influencer effective? The effort you commit either pertaining to work, family, religion, etc. – the intention and discipline involved all reflects upon your character; how people perceive you. The authenticity of your identity produces credibility. Instinctively, an honest person makes them trustworthy. Similar to an influencer leading the impressionable.
The privilege of Gary’s upbringing brought about an invaluable education on hard work and family values. His life experiences as a military disciplinary emerged self-sacrifice and obedience. As a devoted husband and kindhearted father he gained empathy and compassion – attributes that an influencer with good intentions must possess. Encouragement is a gift we all are in possession of with an unlimited means to share.
Gary states that his toughest battle has been maintaining a spotless driving record, while his proudest moment was finalizing a three-year project into his first book. However, looking back at the moment he officially hit the road in a semi-truck as a solo driver marked the day Gary had discovered his life’s mission. His long and devoted career in the military provided him with the knowledge and necessary tools to return to civilian life, fully equipped to operate as a professional driver.
The distinction between the farm boy and veteran truck driver is warranted in the patience that only life can deliver. With poise and humility, the sunny side view is crystal clear. Gary explains,
“Not all is glamourous in our line of work, but it’s a profession to be proud of. You learn to be patient and open minded, that’s when good things happen.”