Thursday, Nov. 12th 2015

The Royal Road

The early part of the 19th century was different in almost every way from our modern world. But it is fitting that David Coffelt started his journey and lived his life in Missouri. In 1821, commerce and westward expansion had land ports that bottlenecked and compelled those Americans that had an entrepreneurial or adventurous spirit. One of these “jumping off” points was Franklin County Missouri, where the Santa Fe Trail met its eastern origination. The most commercially ambitious set off through hardships we can’t imagine with the goal of turning a profit and returning home to provide for those that stayed.

When speaking with Coffelt you get the feeling of an analogous journey through his life and times. Born in Ravenwood, Missouri, a rural setting that has never had more than 500 people tallied, being the oldest of nine children in his generation. This band of Coffelts moved to Maryville in 1962 where David graduated and his parents still live.

In 1970 a young woman named Linda Inman took David’s attention and then his last name in 1971. Coffelt graduated from The University of Missouri in ’74 and became a Tiger, a condition that he has yet to shake.

His entrepreneurial ambition built a successful regional institution but often took over and sometimes took away from the people who were back at home. “I had a hard time letting go,” Coffelt recalls, “I haven’t always done a very good job (being at home). In the early days, I devoted my time to the company.”

This was one of the hardships of his trail. He had to learn to relinquish some of his control, install good people in his organization and learn to trust them. He brought on Lee Cooper to manage the business operations of Coffelt Land Title. This allowed David to focus on the interpersonal aspect of the business. They have both grown from each other’s skill set and developed a symbiotic pairing.

“I have changed because of my faith, because of how I want to run the business and how I have outlined my priorities,” Coffelt says.

At this point on his road, he doesn’t come into the office every day. He spends time on his little farm gardening. He collects coins. He doesn’t have farm animals but does have a guard cat named Oliver. He and Linda had Steven, Rachel, and Matthew. Their band then gave them six grandchildren, Daniel, Samantha, Madeline, Anthony, Winter, and Naomi so far.

He involves himself with the Chamber in Harrisonville, was a president for the Kiwanis, is an active member of the Creighton Baptist Church serving as the Deacon and church treasurer as well as performing weddings and funerals.

But on the days when he does go into the office, he brings a spirit with him that wouldn’t have been out of place on the Santa Fe Trail. He couriers ambition and positive spirit to his employees and emanates both pride and humility. And he still is working to be better, he declares that he is, even to this day, still a work in progress.

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