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FEATURE STORY

Sealing the deal By Gabrielle Maxey

Robert Huff is used to giving his seal of approval. As a student at Lambuth College, Huff was president of Kappa Sigma fraternity. The new chapter house needed a large fraternity crest, which Huff created. He quickly realized what a huge potential market he had – a crest for every Kappa Sigma chapter in the country. A business was born.

FORTY YEARS LATER, Robert Huff Designs has created seals for state senators and representatives, judges and courtrooms in all 50

Robert Huff (left) illustrated his close ties to the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law by creating state and federal seals for the school’s historic courtroom as a gift to Dean Peter Letsou.

states, for movie sets and individuals. He even has made seals for foreign embassies and for the British Parliament. Huff produced the first U of M seal (for

Nev. All of my products are on display at the

Huff says. “As many as 10 movie sets have called

Judicial College.” Huff also attends international

and bought them for courtroom scenes.”

then-Memphis State) when he was still a student.

conventions for elected city, state and national

“Charles Holmes was the PR director at that

officials.

time,” he recalls. “It took a former student, lawyer

While the seals typically are 15 to 24 inches

Huff’s wife Brenda, a CPA, earned her BBA degree from the U of M. His stepson, David Ratton, graduated from the U of M’s Cecil C.

and state senator to get permission to sell them.”

in diameter, the company recently made and

Humphreys School of Law in 2012 and earned

Today he is still creating U of M seals, but he now

installed an eight-foot North Carolina seal in the

his MBA from the Fogelman College of Business

makes them as gifts to give to family and friends

state’s Senate chamber. Most of the seals are a

& Economics.

who have graduated from the University.

poured casting of polyurethane foam. The larger

The state and federal seals hanging in the Law

seals are custom cut from high-density urethane

School were gifts from Huff to Dean Peter Letsou.

foamboard.

“The addition of these beautiful, hand-made seals

In recent years, the fastest growing segment of Huff’s business has been personalizing state Senate and House of Representative seals. “All

“Thirty years ago I would hire the top

to our historic courtroom adds the final touch

politicians have an ego, and the personalized

student artist at the Memphis Academy of Art to

to what is already one of the most beautifully

seals fill that void,” he says. “They have so many

sculpt original seals before making a mold and

restored and historic rooms in our state,” Letsou

certificates on their walls that no one reads them,

pouring the castings,” Huff says. “The advent of a

says. “Mr. Huff was generous enough to offer

but they will notice the seal.”

computer-driven router has taken their job.” Today

his services free of charge as a gesture of how

he has three employees and the casting and

much he and his family care about Memphis Law.

painting are jobbed out.

Knowing that he has created seals like these for

How does he get the business? “By personally showing state seals to the county clerk or judge, our success rate is 95 percent,” Huff

Huff’s seals can even be spotted on the big

courtrooms across the region, I am immensely

says. “There is an extensive ‘grapevine’ in the

screen. Probably the most famous was for The

pleased and proud to have these works of art

judicial community. Judges attend conferences

Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford. “Not many people

displayed in our School.”

as well as the National Judicial College in Reno,

or companies make reproductions of state seals,”

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THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS

Profile for University of Memphis

Fall2014  

University of Memphis Fall Magazine

Fall2014  

University of Memphis Fall Magazine