Friday, July 23, 2010

What’s in a name, er, license plate?


By Dan Danford
Principal, Family Investment Center

Roll back the clocks to 1985. Missouri opened the door to a new avenue of self-expression: the vanity license plate. At the time, I was driving a well-used Plymouth Horizon hatchback, with nearly as much rust as paint. It certainly wasn’t glamorous, but it was what I could afford as a junior trust officer at First National Bank. Banking, in those pre-TARP days, didn’t pay so much!

I rushed down to the Department of Motor Vehicles and applied for personalized plates. I’m sure I requested “TRUST” and a couple of similar derivatives. The plate I eventually got was “ITRUST.” I’ve owned it ever since.

I stayed in the trust business until 1998 when I started Family Investment Center. I worked for three different trust organizations, and drove a dozen different cars. A few were “company cars” and the plates have been shifted back and forth among at least three different corporations. Today, they belong to Family Investment Center and are attached to my 2007 Jeep Cherokee. I’m not directly in the trust business today, but it’s related to what we do, and people have grown used to seeing my car and plates.

The most common query I get involves religion. People ask if I’m a preacher. “No,” I answer, “but I do trust God.” There was a period where Missouri’s plates used the same font for both 1 and I. Then, people would ask what “1Trust” meant.

Once, a national trust journal used a photo of my plate to illustrate an article about industry entrepreneurs. That was kind of fun, and I’ve still got a reprint of the article someplace.

The funniest was with one of my earlier cars (maybe the aforementioned Dodge Horizon. A guy on the street asked why I’d publicly announce that IT RUST? A fair question, that.

My wife is a school counselor (where she’s been recognized as one of the top in our state.) I devised the perfect plates for her, and she’s had them a similar period of time. ILISSN. If you ever see them parked together, you’ll know where to find the Danfords!

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