What’s in a name?

I’m driving Southbound on the interstate, midday on a rainy Wednesday and traffic is fairly light, so I pass the time by reading the names on the trucks passing in the Northbound lanes.

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I’m driving Southbound on the interstate, midday on a rainy Wednesday and traffic is fairly light, so I pass the time by reading the names on the trucks passing in the Northbound lanes. The first one to attract my attention was Reliable Transport. What a great name for a trucking business, I thought-gets the message right out there. Along came a tow truck with Al’s Towing Service boldly displayed, another name that clearly defines a business.

This got me to thinking about the names of companies. When three partners and I started a high-technology welding system company we spent countless hours, over many beers, trying to agree on a name. I liked Fusion Dynamics, but our financial backer, a pragmatist of the first order, said, “Call it what you make.” Thus Electron Beam Corporation was born.

So I contacted a number of leading laser product suppliers to learn how they chose the company name. What started out as just a curiosity turned into an interesting exercise that’s worth sharing with readers who might also be curious about the names of the companies with whom they do business. Some of the names present a clear message; American Laser Spares, for example. Others such as sheet metal equipment supplier Amada honor the company founder by immortalizing the family name. Chong Lee, when he started his OEM laser business, proudly put his name on Lee Laser. Then there is the marking equipment supplier Telesis, which in Greek means intelligent direction of natural and social forces to the desired end, which the company translates into progress intelligently planned and directed.

Laser SOS, the UK laser company that also Supplies Optics and Services, thought S.O.S. for distress signaled their mission to supply parts for failed laser systems. And Prima Industries, a global systems supplier, stands for PRogress In Manufacturing Automation. While Synrad, the leading supplier of low-power CO2 lasers, creatively came up with SYNergistic RADiation. Then there are names resulting from combinations, such as GSI Lumonics, from the merger of General Scanning Inc. and Lumonics (a play on the Latin for light and photonics).

Messers Byland, Schneider, Troesch and Hauptmann took the first letters of their names, added a “nic,” which sounded futuristic, and came up with Bystronic. Ron Schaeffer, who never lets solemnity get in the way, thought Laser Dudes was apt, but settled for Photomachining, Inc. The first industrial product at II-VI Corp. was Cadmium Telluride, from columns II and VI on the Periodic Table of Elements, a unique name for a unique company.

When Al Batista and Bill Shiner set up their businesses, they chose an appropriate name, Laser Inc. Later in a merger with Coherent Inc. the company became Coherent General, a choice that left the observer to wonder just what the company did specifically. Coherent by the way shouldn’t need any explanation as it is the defining characteristic of laser light.

Spiricon is an acronym for Solid-state Pyrolectric InfarRed Image CONvertor, which just about tells it like it is. And when they started up with assistance from the regional government (Autonomous Region of the Valle d’Aosta), Laservall was born. PRECIsion TEChnology aptly describes the performance of the laser cutting sensors from Precitec.

In 1923 Christian Trumpf and two partners acquired a Stuttgart machine shop, renamed in 1937 to TRUMPF & Co., which went on to become the world’s leader in high-power industrial lasers. I knew that the Sinar, Rofin’s name in 1975, was Sanskrit for “ray of light,” but I didn’t know that Rofin came from a UK partnership and was an acronym for RObert and FINley.

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What an interesting exercise stemming from an otherwise boring drive on the interstate.

David A. Belforte
belforte@pennwell.com

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