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Company’s Name Change Contest Attracts 9,000 Entries

September 7, 1989

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The head of Fluorocarbon Co., who felt like a corporate Al Capone because people wrongly thought his products zapped the ozone layer, said Thursday he’s received more than 9,000 entries in his contest to rename the company.

The safe-sounding suggestions, from Fluoroseals to Notox to Pro-Ozone Inc. to Oat Bran Co., came in letters from points as farflung as Stuttgart, West Germany, to a couple of U.S. jails, said Peter Churm, chairman of the Laguna Niguel-based company.

″One of the jailbirds was in San Diego and one was in the Cleveland pokey,″ Churm said. ″The guy from the San Diego County Jail apologized that he couldn’t have it typed.″

Churm decided to rename Fluorocarbon this year after brokers balked at pitching the stock to investors.

The problem: A lot of people confused Fluorocarbon with chlorofluorocarbons, the compounds that are believed to erode the ozone layer that screens cancer-causing ultraviolet rays.

In fact, the smallish company ($250 million in 1988 sales) makes custom seals, gaskets, bearings and the like from Teflon and related plastics known as fluorocarbons. Whirlpool Corp., Boeing Co. and Navistar International are among Churm’s customers, and Fluorocarbon seals are even used in the space shuttle.

The deadline for postmarked entries was Aug. 31, so Churm figured nearly all of them had arrived by Thursday.

″As of this morning, we’ve had 3,647 letters with somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 suggestions altogether,″ he said.

Some suggestions were silly: Not Chlorofluorocarbon Inc., Fiber-Fab, Seals R Us, Fluoraluralura.

″And any with American, Laguna, or my name will be instantly eliminated,″ Churm said.

There went The Churminators Inc. and Laguna Buna.

A committee headed by Churm will winnow the entries to 10 in the next couple of weeks. Then the lawyers will get busy starting with the first name until they find one that isn’t yet taken by another company. The winner should be announced by late October.

The prize is 100 shares of Fluorocarbon stock, which has been trading at about $16 per share.

″We’ll do something special for the winner,″ Churm said.

The flood of entries became so huge this summer after the Great Name Change was announced that Fluorocarbon assigned two workers to the contest, one hired temporarily to feed names into a computer.

Most employees will be glad when it’s over.

″It’s been a bit overwhelming,″ Churm said. ″We’re set up to be a manufacturing company, not some PR firm.″

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