A rose is still a rose by any other name, and we'd still be the same quality hardwood floor company if we weren't called Ralph's, as my father named us when he founded the company in 1965. But, somehow, it just wouldn't be the same.
I’ve mentioned before how I once briefly considered changing the name of Ralph’s Hardwoods. It was the early 1990s, and I had just taken over the business from my Dad, Ralph Lorenz. I was concerned that “Ralph’s” sounded too old-fashioned.
Thankfully, I thought better of that. I realize now that a business by any other name just wouldn’t be the same.
It’s not that my concern was completely unfounded. According to nameberry.com, “Ralph” was one of the 30 most popular names from the 1870s through the 1920s, but by last year, it had fallen to No. 951. The website reports that the name “is often added to lists like Old Man Names and discussed in our forums with posts like "How Old?"”
So I wasn’t wrong to think “Ralph’s” was a name from a different era. But I realized that’s perfectly okay—in fact, it’s fitting considering what we do. Like hardwood floors themselves, the name is grounded in tradition.
But hardwood flooring isn’t stuck in some bygone era. It’s always in style. Certain colors, textures, dimensions, species types, and other hardwood floor characteristics can rise and fall in popularity, but even during the carpeting frenzy of the 1970s and 1980s, a beautiful hardwood floor was considered highly desirable and classy.
And who knows? “Ralph” could be like some other “old-fashioned” names coming back into style (e.g., Ruth, Henry, Emma, Charlie, Max) Hardwood floors have a timeless attraction. And they can stay functional and beautiful for decade after decade. It’s only fitting that they have a name that’s stood the test of time.
“Ralph” has a high-class sense, as in Ralph Waldo Emerson or Ralph Lauren, but it also has a blue-collar connotation like Ralph Kramden in “The Honeymooners.” That’s just like hardwood floors—functional and practical, but also gorgeous and stylish.
Now that I think about it, Dad might have tried to take the store back if I told him I was going to change its name! I’m so thankful he brought me up with enough sense not to do that.
Dad worked hard in this market to make “Ralph’s” synonymous with quality hardwood flooring. I’m excited and proud to keep that connection going.