What’s in a Name?
There is an art to branding a small business. Some people, however, are very bad at art.
My daughter texted me the other day as follows:
Serious contender for the Worst Business Name of All Time. Are you ready tho?
And I thought, oh, what a sweet and naive young woman. She really thinks she can impress her father, an experienced noticer of oddities large and small, who has collected terrible business names for decades? I mean, Sushi Chalet. Mattress Fame. Lunch Meat Villa. Shellfish 2000. Unik Gifts. Future e-Nails. And those are just off the top of my head.
Mattress Fame, for God’s sake.
Furthermore, on the very day she texted, I’d gotten a mailing from a company called LoveSac, which is a $200 million furniture enterprise, in spite of having a name that first brings to mind a dangling pouch of hairy balls.
So let’s just say I was skeptical that Allie would provide me with a “serious contender.” Nonetheless, I am her father and I love her. I would never discourage anyone from sharing a discovery — no matter how quaintly unremarkable. So I replied, “Let ’er rip.” And she did, with a photo and the message: “This truck is parked outside my office.”
The name on the truck was FINAL SOLUTION Mechanical LLC.
So, yes, an apology is in order. Patronizing as I was, Allison has indeed located a serious contender. Very, very serious.
Now, I can hardly believe I need to write this paragraph, but, historically, the Final Solution refers to the plan, hatched by the Nazis at the Wannsee Conference in 1942, to systematically murder all the Jews in its occupied territory throughout Europe and North Africa. The plan worked. In his archipelago of death camps, Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews — the ultimate answer to the so-called “Jewish question.” The term for this gruesome chapter of 20th century history, you may have read somewhere, is “The Holocaust.” Poison gas and ovens were the methods for achieving the Final Solution.
It’s namesake in Newark, NJ, by contrast, describes its business as:
Faucet installation Faucet repair Plumbing leak detection Plumbing pipe repair Shower installation Toilet installation Toilet repair Water heater installation Drain cleaning Garbage disposal installation Garbage disposal repair Outdoor plumbing system repair Plumbing leak repair Sewer cleaning Sewer repair Shower repair Sump pump installation Sump pump repair Water heat.
Hence the cognitive dissonance. Because, “Final Solution” … why??????
One can’t help but think about the 2016 film What’s in a Name? Like every French movie, it revolved around a group of old friends at a dinner party (see The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 1972; The Dinner Game, 1998; Change of Plans, 2010; Nothing to Hide, 2018). In this case, the occasion is the unveiling of the name for the host couple’s soon-to-arrive baby son. When Dad offers the big reveal, all hell breaks loose … because the baby will be called “Adolf.”
Now, elsewhere in the region where Final Solution does its plumbing and high-pressure drilling, many companies with a similar list of services display their brand names to the world and loosen no hellishness whatsoever.
Hope Mechanical LLC, Houzz Mechanical, Vs Mechanical. Gold Standard Mechanical, T-Rexx Mechanical, Hildra Plus Mechanical LLC. Not a peep from anybody. But, here’s the thing: I can locate no evidence that Final Solution itself has stirred any controversy, either — at least, not if Google is a means to judge. Various searches yielded nothing, backlashwise. Not even from an irate Jew. Mind you, you needn't be Jewish to be sensitive to the Holocaust; merely human. Still, let's just say we have a special reason for repugnance at such tone deafness (or worse). I inquired on that very point with the proprietor, a fellow named Frank, who began by rejecting the premise of the question.
“It’s not Final Solution. It’s Final Solution Mechanical. That’s what it is.”
Ah, well that changes everything.
For what it’s worth, Frank asserted that in five years of doing business (Sunday was their 5th anniversary!), nobody of any religion has ever questioned his brand name. He also disclaimed knowledge of the other Final Solution, but helpfully observed, “I have a lot of Jewish customers.” That was a surprise. Naturally, I had many other questions:
Frank, what precisely were you trying to convey?
Was this an unfortunate error too expensive to correct, or nostalgia?
If you had to do it all over again, would you choose something different? Perhaps “High-Pressure Drilling Chalet”?
Unfortunately, Frank seemed in a hurry to get off the phone, bidding me adieu thusly: “Sir, if you have a problem with it, you can do what you want to do. That’s the name of the company.”
Actually, come to discover, it’s the name of quite a few companies. Google did not fail me there. Around the world, there is Final Solution SDN BHD in Malaysia; Final Solution Olsen in Norway; Final Solution Group s.r.o. (Czech Republic); and The Final Solution e.V. (Germany).
Here in the good ol’ USA, there is Final Solution Roofing (Texas); Final Solution Services LLC (California); Final Solution Exteriors LLC (Ohio); A Final Solution LLC (Ohio); The Final Solution LLC (Virginia); The Final Solution LLC, Indiana) and one more. That one might come as a disappointment to Allie, who was well within her rights to imagine Final Solution Mechanical LLC as the worst business name ever to be plastered on a work truck. Mind you, she was in the ballpark. But she simply had no way of knowing about a company in Marshalltown, Iowa:
Final Solution Pest Control.
That is correct: exterminators, the eradicators of vermin. As God is my witness.
Per their website, “Our Mission is to Consistently Provide Legendary Service and Affordable Pest Control Solutions.”
Now, I can’t ascertain how big this business is. The company also leaves a limited internet trail, including a handful of customer testimonials that don’t necessarily sound especially from the heart. Five reviews were in this vein: “The gentleman that came by was prompt, courteous, discreet and gave me the best price. I would recommend to anyone in need of his services.”
The sixth was probably libelous in the conclusions it draws about the proprietor, but I’ll just say the rating was one star out of five. Now, obviously, I have used every available means to make contact with the owner of Final Solution Pest Control, but have been unsuccessful. So I haven’t been able to ask him a somewhat longer list of questions than I had for Frank, the plumber. Perhaps he will eventually respond.
Meanwhile, I will say this: The owner of Final Solution Pest Control is a gent named …
… Aaron Weiss.