It seems when a family name is on something special and it becomes a common name, it is your own personal brand. A brand of the product or service. It means a lot to the founders to have their name representing it all.
    For example, J.I. Case. Jerome Increase Case was an early American manufacture of threshing machines and went on through many mergers to become today’s Case Corporation in Racine. This was a great way to label his machines, so everyone knew they were his creations.
    Another example of a business that has its name made up from two original friends, William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson. They started in Milwaukee, and then grew into the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
    McDonalds. Richard and Maurice McDonald founded the restaurant, but they did not have a clue what would follow. It was Ray Kroc who made it famous. He purchased the name with the business and became an icon of the fast food industry. Well, that is not exactly the most positive outcome for those brothers. I bet they wished they never sold their name.
    There are other local name brands like Blain’s Farm and Fleet. They have the history of the farm supply store on their wall in floor to ceiling photos. I look at it every time after I head out of the store. Jane Blain Gilbertson’s photo is on the wall, and I think about how this business has grown and thrived.
    I wonder if Jane ever knew how nice it is to see that she kept her last name along with Gilbertson to let everyone know she is a family member. She is the current president and CEO. Keeping your family name is important when you are connected to something special.
    Our daughter, Anna, is going to be married in August. We have been discussing whether she might want to keep her last name. She will be transitioning into partnership with us at the farm. Her name will be going on the check book and other assets as time goes on. As a young woman getting married, she can choose to take her husband’s last name, keep her maiden name or hyphenate it with both names.
    This subject came up again in a conversation with a woman who visited on a sales call. Her family owns the company she was representing. She came out with her husband. We did not even know he was her husband until she introduced him as her husband. We laughed because he often gets called her last name. She kept her last name because it is her professional name. People know her for the family business. Their name is the name of the company.
    I do know two men who have changed their names to their wife’s last name. One had a very long name that was hard to pronounce. It was easier for everyone. When they had children, it was easy for the kids to write their last name. The other gentleman was always being called his wife’s last name, so he took it, too. No shame from his family. Just as a woman leaving her family name to take on her husband’s, he embraced the family business.
    This has been an almost painful decision for Anna. She wants to please everyone. She still has time to figure it out. She does not want to leave our family name since she has been known by it for 22 years. Only she can make the decision. If she thinks she should be Anna Hinchley-Skadahl, it will be a new signature. It will be long to put on forms and applications. It may be a way to let people know she is a Hinchley but married to Kevin Skadahl. We will be happy with whatever she chooses.
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin.  They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.