25, No. 17, March 16, 2006
the job: Tom Martin
Abby Cañeda, News Bureau Student Intern
photo to enlarge
by L. Brian Stauffer
has been a locksmith in the Facilities and Services
Division for 21 years Outside of work, he enjoys
traveling and remodeling projects on his home.
Tom Martin has worked as a UI locksmith for 21 years. Martin is one
of the eight locksmiths who manage thousands of doors and locks on
campus. He cuts keys, changes locks and every once in a while, rescues
people who have locked themselves in rooms. In addition to his job,
Martin is involved with the Staff Advisory Council as a representative
of the skilled crafts and trades classification. Outside of work, he
enjoys travel and remodeling.
What made you want to work for the university?
We had a young family and the benefits and job security (were important). I had
worked for nine years as a locksmith outside the university and was always interested
in what was going on (on campus). I’m curious by nature. I’m fascinated
with a lot stuff that goes on around here. As a university locksmith, you take
care of things and maintain things more rather than working for someone on the
outside (where) you’re more inclined to sell (a customer) something new.
Tell me about your job and your day-to-day activities.
There are eight of us in the shop and basically our day-to day duties are to
maintain all of the keys and locks for the campus as well as the door closers.
We’re responsible for keeping track of all the keying systems and we cut
all of the keys for the campus. We take care of card access, the new electronic
access on campus. We also maintain safes. My main focus right now is card access.
I manage well over 200 stand-alone card readers around campus. I take care of
the databases and maintenance on those. We all basically do anything that needs
to get done in the shop. It’s pretty varied.
What’s the biggest challenge in being a locksmith
at the UI?
If you come from the outside, it’s learning to slow down. You don’t
have somebody watching over your shoulder all the time. They’ve hired you
because they’re confident in your abilities. You don’t have to make
a profit for someone. … Time is money here, but we’re trying to
save money, not make a profit. We get a lot of different challenges. We’re
asked for different ways to lock things up.
A good example is out at one of the animal clinics – they’ve got
a big lab that’s got a treadmill for horses. They were having a lot of
trouble with people walking by, swinging that door open and spooking the horses
when they were up on the treadmill. So we had to come up with a way that they
could control that so that the door could be left unlocked at certain times and
they could lock it back. We’re putting a card reader on it. They’ll
be able to control the times the door is unlocked and then when it’s locked,
certain people will be able to access it. You’re challenged to come up
with different ideas.
What do you like most about your job?
I come to work every day enjoying my job and the people I work with and all the
people I know on campus. I probably know somebody in every building. I’ve
been here that long and been in that many buildings. It’s a fun place to
work. You’ve got to have the right attitude every day. In our particular
job, we have a little more freedom than some because we’re not stuck in
one place all the time. We’re all over the campus. We can be anywhere,
from a lab at Beckman to working on a barn door in the South Farms. Every day,
there’s going to be something a little bit different than what you did
the day before. And that’s what makes it so fun and that’s what’s
made the years go by so fast.
What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you on the job?
Spurlock Museum called one time and they needed to have a case unlocked because
they had an artifact in there that was donated to the museum. They had lost the
keys or never had the keys to it. When I got over there, they had me put on white
gloves and I picked the lock open. It was supposedly a casting of a death mask
of Abraham Lincoln. That’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve
done. I was seeing it at the same time they were seeing it.
What are your interests outside of work?
We like to travel. I just got back from Cozumel, Mexico. We’ve been down
there nine or 10 times now. We go at least once, sometimes twice, a year. We
don’t sightsee or anything like that. We relax [and] lie on the beach.
I highly recommend it. You feel all the stress drain out of you when you lie
down on that hot sand.
We have an old house in Mahomet that we kind of fixed up. I’ve got a woodshop
that I tinker in. I basically use it to do the remodeling that we do on the house.
Remodeling is kind of our hobby. It’s a really old house and we do one
room at a time. We’re down to the last room. When we finish the house,
we’ll probably start all over again. My wife has a great sense of style
and color, and is always sketching new ideas. So, who knows?