Bob Gray has the distinction of having more years of seniority at AdvantageCS than the company has been in business. That’s because Bob was working at one of the firms that merged to become T & B Computing (the original name of AdvantageCS) and was able to count his years of service there when T & B Computing was formed.
In his 40+ years here, Bob has witnessed remarkable changes in operating systems, programming languages and software technology. When he first began his career in computing, he programmed in Fortran for a mainframe computer, even using card decks on occasion, and had to debug using core dumps (or hex dumps). Access to the computer was through shared terminals in a terminal room, where they were connected via phone modems running 300 baud. Reports and data were printed out on green-bar paper.
By the time T & B was formed, the programmers got desktop terminals, which was a huge deal, Bob recalls. From mainframes, he went to Prime mini-computers and was involved in writing the General Mailing System, which was the forerunner of today’s circulation functionality. Over the years, the software was ported from Prime to VAX VMS, to UNIX and then to Windows.
Bob worked on many product offerings and then in the 90’s, he moved to the book and product order area. He has worked on such functionality as taxes, customer search, digital wallet, gift certificates, duplicate consolidation, payment dialog boxes, premiums and premium sets, online authorization for credit cards, order data, the user interface---and the list goes on. He was the original developer of five Advantage modules: Conference & Event, Adoption Tracking, EDI, Envelope and Reprint. Bob says he has truly enjoyed the challenge of creating something that people will use and is glad that he has been able to improve what Advantage has to offer.
Bob has worked with just about everyone at AdvantageCS and admits he will miss the people. Bob’s managers have nothing but praise for him. “No one is more tenaciously thorough than Bob,” says Dick Hile. He is great with detail and has excellent follow-through. I will miss both his contributions and his friendship.”
Howie Brooks reflects: “I have worked with Bob for my entire career. Over those years, I have learned a lot from his example: how to think thoroughly about client needs and software solutions, how to have realistic expectations about challenges we might face, and how to care deeply and honestly about each project, large or small. Bob’s experience, judgement and dedication will be missed. I wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.”
Bob’s current supervisor, Paul Sauter, has this to say. “I have worked with Bob for many years on a variety of different projects. Bob has many great qualities, but the three that stand out the most to me are his dedication, meticulousness, and passion. Bob is dedicated to seeing things through to the end, and this makes him incredibly dependable. From small tasks to large projects, I cannot think of an instance where Bob has handed unfinished work off to someone else. Bob is meticulous. This shows up in many aspects of his work, including programming, testing, and documentation. He is always thinking about the details. And lastly, some may describe Bob as being excitable as he has been known to occasionally get worked up when he thinks something isn’t being done in the best way. I see that as evidence of his passion. Bob has always wanted to produce the best possible product for our clients and is committed to seeing the company succeed. I have learned a lot over the years from Bob. It has been a pleasure working with him and I’ll miss having him on my team.”
Dan Sneed has worked with Bob for nearly 30 years and concurs that perhaps Bob’s most apparent trait is his dedication to Advantage excellence. “Bob has always been protective of Advantage as a software product,” notes Dan. “He genuinely cares about the quality of the product and our ability to support it. But even if he doesn’t particularly like a proposed change, Bob is still willing to work with you to get the job done. Bob is a people-person, and dedicated to the company as well as the product.”
A native of Ann Arbor, Bob studied engineering at the University of Michigan as well as elementary education at Eastern Michigan University. Upon graduation, teaching jobs were scarce and Bob went to work for Project Management Associates—a precursor to T & B Computing—and has never been sorry.
Bob and his wife of 44+ years, Sarah, live in Saline. They have five adult children. Their eldest, Angela, lives in Ohio with her husband and young daughter and works for Xavier University. Charlie is a lawyer and lives in Novi, Michigan with his wife and two children. Robert manages a small business in Ann Arbor and was recently married. Carla is the head of physical security for Uber in San Francisco, and their youngest, Eleanor, is married and working on a master’s degree in library science in Pennsylvania.
Bob is visibly proud of all of his children and their accomplishments and enjoys visiting them whenever possible. In his leisure time, Bob enjoys gardening and playing hockey and tennis. He is not one to sit still or waste time. In addition to these activities, after retiring, he plans to do volunteer work at his church and really “dig” into yardwork and gardening.
As if that isn’t enough to keep him occupied, Bob is going to take over the website and other computer work for Sarah, who is a director in the Mary Kay organization. This will free up her time so that they can travel more together.
Congratulations, Bob! We will miss you!