Houston Treasures for 2012
Photo by: Evin Thayer Studios
Believing in the importance of giving back to their community, Franci and Jim Crane champion causes that have played a particularly pivotal role in their lives. For Jim it’s been competitive sports; for Franci it’s been the arts.
Jim hails from St. Louis, Missouri but has lived in Houston some thirty years. He was a standout baseball pitcher for his college, now the University of Central Missouri. Some of Jim’s baseball records are still intact. He is a Distinguished Alumnus and a member of his college’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In recognition of his love of baseball and its positive impact on his life, Jim was the principal underwriter of the renovation of his high school’s and college’s baseball fields and stadiums. Jim is also a standout golfer, having been ranked number one CEO Golfer in 2006 by Golf Digest.
If Jim’s genome were sequenced, it would read “entrepreneur.” When just thirty, Jim founded Eagle USA Airfreight (EGL). In relatively short order Jim built EGL into a company of more than 10,000 employees with 400-plus facilities in 139 countries. After the company was acquired in an LBO transaction in 2007, Jim formed Crane Worldwide Logistics, a premier global provider of customized transportation and logistics services. Jim also owns Champion Energy Services, a retail electricity provider.
Franci is a recovering trial lawyer, having been a partner at Susman Godfrey for about 20 years. During her lawyering years, she was named by a Houston paper as one of the “women lawyers men feared.” Instead of working for money, she now works as an active volunteer. Franci is on the boards of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston Grand Opera; Inprint; and Hermann Park Conservancy. She serves on M. D. Anderson’s Board of Visitors.
In 2006, then-Mayor Bill White appointed Franci as his Houston Film Liaison. One the outgrowths of this initiative was the creation of the nonprofit Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS). Franci is its founder and board chair. Among other things, HCAS produces annually a superb film and media arts festival with celebrated guests like Tilda Swinton, Shirley MacLaine, Isabella Rossellini, John Turturro and Ethan Hawke. Franci’s alma mater The University of Texas School of Law named her its 2007 Distinguished Alumnus for Community Service.
Between them, Jim and Franci have three children, one granddaughter, and 10 godchildren.