Employee spotlight – Tommy Craft
 
When Tommy Craft first started working at the University of Houston, the Beatles were dominating the charts, the Astrodome had just opened and gas was 31 cents a gallon.
That was in 1965. Through the years, a lot has changed at UH, but Craft has remained on the job, working in one role or another in Printing Services for 47 years. He expects to hit 50 years and beyond and doesn’t expect to leave anytime soon.

“I haven’t even thought about retiring,” said Craft, who is the assistant manager of Printing Services.

Just a year after graduating from San Jacinto High School, Craft applied for a job as a linotype operator after spending a few months working downtown at an envelope company. The UH job paid him $300 a month.

For the first five years, Printing Services was located in a building near where the Hines College of Architecture building is now located. In 1970, it was moved to the General Services Building, where it has been ever since.

As technology started to change in the printing field, so did Craft’s job. In the early 1970s, linotype was being phased out and being replaced with film to make the printing plates.

“I asked my boss at the time if I could work part-time in the camera room and part-time on the linotype,” he said. “And so they started training, and then the guy who was training me got sick after just a few months and I was just kind of on my own.”

Technology changed again as computers ushered in the digital era about seven years ago at UH. Craft welcomed the change.

“What used to take me four or five hours to do I do in 30 minutes now,” he said.

In his current role, he ensures that all the printing jobs get done properly and on schedule.

“The projects come to me now on a computer. I look at them and make sure it is all laid out properly and I just hit a button and send it over,” he said.

His routine has been the same for much of his UH career. Every morning, he leaves his home in Crosby before dawn and arrives on campus a few minutes before 6 a.m. after a half-hour commute on traffic-free streets. He likes to get some work done when the office is quiet and before others arrive.

One thing that has changed in his nearly half century of service is the size of the university. It was smaller then. Many new buildings and parking lots have been added.

The university has had 13 presidents in its history. Craft has worked for nine of them.

He met his wife Brenda when she transferred from the purchasing department and began working in the print shop. They raised five children and now have 13 grandchildren. She left UH in the early 1980s. None of his children or grandchildren have attended the university.

In 47 years, he remembers wearing a tie to a work-related function just one time. That’s when he received a staff excellence award and thought it would be a good idea to don one.

“The university has been a great place to work,” he said. “They have always treated me well. I have always enjoyed working here.”