Nelson said he is hiring six full-time and four part-time employees. "All of them will have 10 to 15 years experience in banking and all will be local," Nelson said.
"The banking industry is changing," he said. "Most trust companies used to be associated with banks, but in the last three or four years 60 or 70 independent trust companies have sprung up around the country."
Sentry won't make mortgages, loans or offer checking accounts like banks, he said.
"People need financial counseling all of their lives now," he said. "They start thinking of planning for their retirement in their 20s. We'll be doing financial counseling for all of their lives."
Sentry will offer estate planning, employee benefit programs, tax planning and retirement planning services, as well as services such as investment advice and power of attorney. Nelson said Sentry would even pay a customer's monthly bills if necessary.
Customers can either come to the office, Nelson said, or Sentry staffers will go to their homes and places of business.
"We will be very people oriented," Nelson said. "We will get to know our customers well as they travel through their life cycles."
Sentry will recruit customers from Washington County and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania, he said.
One of the largest shareholders in Sentry is Patriot Federal Credit Union. The company started in 1965 primarily to serve Letterkenny Army Depot military and civilian workers, said Peggy J. Bosma, Patriot president.
Today, Patriot has offices throughout Franklin County and serves 40,000 customers, she said.
Patriot officials had discussed the possibility of opening its own trust office, but joined Sidney M. Palmer, a local bank executive, in his plans to open an independent company.
"We both had a vision, but we knew that Sidney could do it more quickly," Bosma said. "He has the expertise."