Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What Is In A Name?

Have you ever thought about where names of automobile companies, insurance companies, retail stores or any other business get their names?

There is a commercial running for Dodge automobiles telling us the Dodge brothers worked for Ford Motor Company for 10 years before leaving and forming Dodge one hundred years ago in 1914. They felt the assembly line as Henry Ford was running it was not the way to go.

That got me thinking about where companies get their names. We know Henry Ford filed bankruptcy twice before he started his enormously successful Ford Motor Company. He made the assembly line run exceptionally well to make the Model T.

After a quick Google search, I found more information about Horace and John Dodge and their initial work in manufacturing a ball bearing for bicycles. The two brothers worked for a number of companies before the owner of Oldsmobile came knocking on their door seeking their advice and offering them a job. His name was Ransom Eli Olds.

Now we know where the name Oldsmobile came from. Horace and John Dodge were known in the automobile industry as very creative, industrious and hard-working young men. When Mr. Olds found out about these two young men, he hired them to design hundreds of engines, transmissions and axles for him over the next several years. It was Ransom Olds who started the first assembly line building automobiles in 1902. In 1903 Oldsmobile was manufacturing 30% of the automobiles made in the United States.

In 1872, in a completely different industry, Charles Alfred Pillsbury formed the company along with his uncle, John S. Pillsbury where they processed grain and had built a flour mill on the Mississippi River to transport their small grain and flour all the way down the Mississippi River. I think it is safe to say Pillsbury is known pretty much worldwide.

Pillsbury competed with General Mills, another Minneapolis-based company until 2001 when General Mills bought out Pillsbury. However, antitrust laws forced the companies to diverge and get rid of some of the Pillsbury products. General Mills kept the rights to refrigerated and frozen Pillsbury products, while dry baking products and frosting are now sold by Smucker under license.

We have all heard the Smucker's commercial which goes something like, " ... with a name like Smucker's, it has to be good."  James Monroe Smucker founded his company in 1897.

The list of people who have named their companies after themselves goes on and on. I am sure you would recognize more of them if I were to go on and list other industries. However, I think you get my point. I would like to hear companies in your part of the woods that were started by people and named after them. There are regional companies around the country, national companies and international businesses that do business around the world.

If you live in Minneapolis, and you go to the Macy's store in downtown Minneapolis, remember that used to be Dayton's.

Where would we be if the Mayo brothers had been named Johnson, Peterson or Anderson? The most famous medical clinic in the world would be called the Johnson Brothers Clinic. It just does not have the same ring.

I look forward to your comments and names that fit my little survey.




Mike Patrick said...

What makes a man, or woman, name his/her company after himself or herself? I even named my company with my name. I don't believe it's ego. Maybe name recognition? Any ideas?



Kim Ross said...

So I am sure you have blogged about it but can't find it at the moment. What's in the name Redskins?

Colleen said...

Very interesting blog, Michael! Have to sleep on this one and maybe can come up with something interesting--maybe not!