About a year ago, a light bulb went off in his head. Stephen Smith, an entrepreneur, had this innovative idea of internally illuminated number plates, which he believed could help to solve some issues relating to road users in Barbados.
And before long his Glo Plates & Signs company was formed.
“I started to work on this in 2014, and in 2015 I brought it into the public domain through the BMEX show . . . . Immediately, it got the thumbs up from individuals.
“The booth was constantly besieged by people looking for more information, examining the product. It was definitely a very happy time for people seeing the product.
“The public’s response has been very, very good,” said Smith.
The licence plates, for which he has the exclusive rights, are made from 100 per cent acrylic. They can either be connected to the vehicle’s park lights or number plate lights. Once any of those lights are switched on, the number plate will be illuminated.
According to Smith, the idea to make the licence plates that glow “just came from plain common sense”.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY recently about the products at his C&A Tools Complex, Lower Estate, St Michael office, Smith explained that there were “problems” articulated by the police and Ministry of Transport regarding number plates on the road.
“And I thought the best thing to do is to come up with a product that would address those concerns.”
Among the concerns, he said, were police not being able to see a licence number from a certain distance. Meanwhile individuals have welcomed it as a safety feature.
Holding a sample of the product, Smith further explained: “It makes for superior visibility at nights . . . and you can see it from a long distance off. This is a feature the police are particularly happy with, because now they can see the number plates at a glance and read them clearly . . . . So they are quite happy with it.”
And the response from the public has been “tremendous”.
“People have heralded this as a great innovation, which is a good safety feature and people like the fact that now if anybody does them anything on the road at night, they can see their number plate quite clearly,” Smith said, adding that most people who were gravitating towards it were middle-aged individuals.
He stated that some major car dealers would be forming a partnership with him to use the illuminated licence numbers on their vehicles.
There was a lot of competition when it came to the making of licence plates in Barbados, the entrepreneur said, but that his outlook was “extremely positive”.
“Once we get over the initial teething stages of the misconception that the public now has about the product, we will be fine,” he said, pointing out that a previous article
in another section of the media had caused some misapprehension leading to somewhat of a damper on business.
“Under the current legislation, no one is bound to apply for permission to make number plates in Barbados. As long as the design is legal, that is all that is necessary,” Smith pointed out, explaining that one had only to ensure the products were of the correct size and carried the appropriate font, and had no coloured lighting.
Besides the number plates with the special feature, the former Alleyne School student said July last year he had also put forward an alternative design for the road tax sticker.
He said while he was yet to get a response from the Ministry of Transport and Works on whether it was something it would employ, ministry officials had indicated they were “very keen”.
The new design Smith is proposing would have the licence number at the top of the sticker, the months would run down both sides, and in the centre it would show the issue date and the expiry date, as well as a barcode for scanning by the police.
“You can see the car number big and bold . . . if the one on the car matches.
You can also have a police officer with a barcode scanner who can scan this and see immediately all the vital information of the vehicle owner,” he said, showing a sample.
“The other feature would be the bold print of the 12 months of the year and punching out of the month in which the tax is due. Currently the tax disc is so small that a police officer has to come right up to it and strain to see it.
“You can see this from a distance. It is a completely new design, and it has the relevant information clearly visible,” Smith explained.