What’s a Juggernaut?
A lot of people love our company name Juggernaut. When we started, very few people knew that a Juggernaut is an unstoppable force crushing everything in its path. I don’t think I knew what it meant the first time I heard it. The origin story of our company name is that it was meant as an inside joke. It just took off from there.
If you are in a creative profession, you will occasionally come across collaborators that you really click with. Two such colleagues were Chris and Brad with whom I worked in Detroit. Chris Johnson was a former professional cyclist turned high energy project manager, and Brad Richards a talented industrial designer who now is the Design Director of Harley Davidson. These were guys I knew I wanted to work with as much as possible. We were always trying to figure out ways to start our own thing. Working in a corporate design team, we were often trying to pull together cross functional teams for brainstorming, and it was hard to keep people focused while on site. It was also hard to get management to approve off site travel. We had a cool solution for this and even 20 years later I think it could be a viable business. That’s not the point though. One day at lunch, Brad is all excited and says “I’ve got it. I’ve got a name for the company – Juggernaut!” He explained what it meant and to twenty-somethings with visions of world domination it sounded perfect. We never got serious enough about starting our own business. The company we were working for was changing rapidly and we wanted out. There was a merger, management changes, then they fired the guy who had hired all three of us and that was the last straw. Brad was honing his portfolio and would eventually be designing F-150’s for Ford. I was never a gasoline-in-the-veins guy and wanted out of Detroit so I was interviewing in Arizona.
Fast forward a couple of years and the guy in Arizona who hired me, Randall Toltzman, was now asking if I wanted to go into business. The owner of the ID firm we both worked for was looking to exit. Randall wanted a partner in the buy-out. Having grown up around small business, I had always pictured myself as an entrepreneur, so I was in. We wrote a business plan, did lots of calculations and once the idea was planted in our heads, we told the owner that “if this doesn’t pan out, we will have to go start our own thing”. It was just all too real to go back to sitting at our desks working for someone else.
Change of Plans
As part of the process, we needed to start a new corporation, and we needed a placeholder name. After the purchase we would switch it to the name of the firm we planned to buy. We needed a name, and I put forward Juggernaut, LLC. I told the story about Brad and Chris and the name so we decided to use it as an inside joke so I could tell those guys I had started “Juggernaut”. Eventually the purchase fell through and we realized we would now be going into business for ourselves. We’d need a name, and there was never a moment’s hesitation. We were Juggernaut Design.