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What's in a Name?

Posted By John Hausladen, Sunday, December 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, July 11, 2014
Ever wonder how trucking companies pick their names? My position has allowed me to capture some wonderful back stories about the naming process.

Companies based on a FAMILY NAME are obvious. Anderson Trucking Service. Hallstrom Trucking. Michaletz Trucking. Wilson Lines. These are proud bloodlines, some going back multiple generations.

NUMBERS are popular too. 101 Transport was founded by Tom Dahlberg in 2007. A veteran driver and manager, he believes the key to running a successful trucking company is focusing on the basics. He literally boils it down to Trucking 101: Be honest, pick it up on time, deliver it on time, do it safely, and get everyone paid. Do those basics well and good things will follow.

Some names are a nod to company ROOTS. Bay & Bay Transportation was founded in 1941. Its source of power was – you guessed it – two bay horses. We are talking true horse power here. When they transitioned from hay to diesel fuel, they kept the name. The Anderson family, not related to those other Andersons in St. Cloud, purchased the company and continued to build that brand.

There are names that are FUNCTIONAL. Alan Shapiro had a small fleet of leased straight trucks in the 1950s and 1960s. Every lease had at least two parties – a lessor and a lessee. Light bulb moment! The company went dormant for a period, and then his son, James Shapiro, took it off the shelf and breathed new life into it. The Lessors name continues on strong in Eagan.

Physical LOCATION often plays a role. James Shapiro’s grandfather was also in the trucking business. The company, called Hennepin Transportation, just happened to be located near Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis … in Hennepin County. They doubled-down on this name. As a side note, Hennepin was one of those companies the government took over and ran during World War II to supply the war effort.

Other names come from raw INSPIRATION … and HAPPENSTANCE. When Don and Sharon Olson started their little company, it was called PDX. The initials stood for their children Perry, Dana and Baby X, who was in the womb. Baby X turned out to be Ben. While sitting in their attorney’s office and thinking about a different name, a copy of Fortune magazine was sitting out. “How about Fortune Transportation?” asked Don, and the rest is history.

The Olson’s went on to continue naming companies after grandchildren, which now includes Zoe Services LLC (owner/operator group within Fortune), Ike and Eli’s Shag Service, and Taylor Elk Ranch.

The story behind every company name is meaningful. Every name ties to people, places, other entities, stages of career or even fundamental beliefs. Those names in turn become part of our brand, meaningful to us, our customers and the driving public.

When you think about it, the holidays are all about names. For me, the name “Emmanuel” gives great joy because it means “God with us.”

Wouldn’t it be a great time to tell the story behind your company name to your family, drivers and team members? We all come from somewhere.

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2014!

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