Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is your company name like a boy named Sue?

Many entrepreneurs have started by making their last name part of their business name. For some that may have been a bad idea, like the infamous law firm of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe mentioned on the Car Talk radio show.

Shel Silverstein’s novelty song “A Boy Named Sue” was a country hit record for Johnny Cash. The first verse says:

“Well my daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me ‘Sue.’ "

I found three examples of bad sounding firm names for speakers located in the Dallas – Forth Worth area.

Back in 1980 Dianna Booher, CSP, CPAE named her business communication and productivity firm Booher Consultants. Thirty years, 44 books, and many articles later you still have to wonder about continuing to use a name pronounceable as “boo her.”

Randy Schwantz is a sales trainer in the commercial insurance industry. Currently his firm is known as The Wedge Group, but once it was called Schwantz and Associates. Schwantz is a Yiddish euphemism for penis.

Linda Swindling, JD, CSP currently runs a speaking, training and consulting company called Journey On. She once worked for a law firm with the usual practice of listing last names of their lawyers: Withrow, Fiscus and Swindling.

There is an even worse Midwestern example. Tom Raper has a recreation vehicle business located off I-70 in Richmond, Indiana, which is right between Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Raper called his company Raper RVs. It has a phone number of (800) RAPERRV, and a web address of

December 30, 2010 Update:

When I looked up the raper as a last name on Google, I found it was an Old English spelling for describing a roper (a person who makes rope). How did Tom's ancestor get through immigration without getting told to change it?

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