Sam Mobley’s midlife career change hit the mark.

A trucking career was not on Sam Mobley’s radar. After graduating from Florida State University, he worked as a marketing rep for several oil companies, including Mobil, Hess and distributor Petroleum World. But after 12 years of nomadic moving, Mobley and his wife, Jannet were ready for yet another change.

Mobley and his wife, Jannet, were ready for yet another change.

The two settled in Charlotte, N.C., acquired a Steamatic carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise and kept it nine years, Mobley says. But running the franchise, with long days that included opening and closing, proved exhausting.

He returned briefly to marketing, but found it boring. Then he learned the trucking industry was booming, so he began researching carriers. “For once, I was going to do something that I actually wanted to do,” Mobley says.

“I came home one day and I told my wife, ‘I think I’m going to learn to drive a truck,'” Mobley says. “She said, ‘I think you’re as crazy as hell.'”

Crazy or not, he obtained his CDL. “My first drive on the road was with a Schneider training engineer, and I was really nervous,” Mobley says. “I drove from Charlotte, N.C., to Suffolk, Va., and I think I would grind in between every gear, and I didn’t look in my mirrors enough for him. But I learned.”

Now 60, Mobley hauls mostly retail items and paper products for big retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy, from the Carolinas to Texas. He has driven across the lower 48 and Canada but prefers the South. Mobley picks his load from a Schneider-operated Internet load board.

Mike Bethea, Schneider’s director of operations for one-way truckload contractors, has known Mobley since 1994. “He’s a professional, self-managed driver,” Bethea says. “He’s a businessman and a good role model who’s well-spoken and laid-back.