Ticket to Ride
LOUIS FERREL wakes up each morning in the driver's seat, operating ahead of schedule even before he assumes his official duties as manager of printing services for Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro). What gives him such a head start?
"When I get up, I want to go to work," Ferrel reveals.
He didn't expect to establish a career as an in-plant manager. A lifelong Houston resident, Ferrel headed to the University of Houston in the early 1970s with the intention of becoming an attorney. In 1974, while moonlighting as a meat cutter at a local grocer, one of his regular customers offered Ferrel a job in a print shop at an oil and gas company. Ferrel was ready to make a move.
"The grocery store would be cited for inspection violations, and they made the employees chip in to pay the fines," he recalls, with distaste.
He started at the print shop as a helper in 1975, and was promoted to pressman, eventually becoming a full-time employee. He then moved to the in-plant at Hughes Tool Co. and spent nearly 10 years there, working his way up to supervisor of operations.
Next, Ferrel went to Union Texas Petroleum and served for another decade as manager of the print shop. Why stay in printing? "I enjoyed creating something different and dealing with new challenges every day," he explains. "Even if you start the day with a plan, which you usually do, you need to be able to react and make changes and still do what needs to be done."
The downside of working in oil industry in-plants in those days, Ferrel adds, was that the whole industry was in a depression. "I had to get rid of people and keep operations going with practically no staff," he remembers. "I guess that the good thing about that is that I can do everything in the shop."