Why Did We Pick the Name Trace?

October 14, 2020 /in , /by Trace Associates



Co-Founder, President, and CEO


“Why did we pick the name Trace?” This was a question I got the other day when I asked a few of our new folks if there was anything they’d like to see added to our company orientation.


When Rhonda and I were planning Trace, we spent a crazy amount of time picking the name. We both agreed it was something we had to be proud to say, something simple. It had to be meaningful and timeless. It was also critical that family and friends and future staff, suppliers, and clients liked and hopefully loved. It had to be as unique as possible within our industry and where we wanted to go. For me, I had to instantly love it. It couldn’t be something that I had to be talked into or something that could “grow” on me. With that, the boundaries were set, and the creative process began.


We agreed we were not going to set up meetings where we locked ourselves in a room and after an intense brainstorming session we would walk out with a name. It had to come naturally, and you never know when your creativity is going to hit you or when your best ideas are going to happen. We gave ourselves a deadline but agreed if we reached that deadline and didn’t love the name, we would work at it until we got it right.


I spent countless hours on the web, flipping through a hard copy dictionary and thesaurus to find the perfect word to describe our new company. I would sit in traffic and look around for inspiration, and all I saw were the names of vehicles beside me as I drove down Macleod Trail in Calgary. I’d come up with a few names I thought were ok and passed it by some friends and family, but nothing was really sticking.


Then one day Rhonda called and said she and Mike (her husband) were brainstorming names, and she wanted to pass them by me. I don’t remember if she had others or if it was just one, but when she said, “What do you think of the name Trace?”, I instantly loved it. I immediately made the connection to many aspects of our work. I couldn’t wait to tell the story and chat with people all about the references to “Trace” in our industry.


When we started Trace, contaminated site investigation was our primary service, and the word trace is used often. When we describe soil samples, our industry uses the word trace to describe the amount of sand, silt, or clay in soil. We’d be reading and writing our name all of the time. As would our competitors and clients, what marketing brilliance! Another part of our work is reviewing soil chemistry for trace elements. Trace elements are found in almost every living particle and are essential to life on earth. Another win! And third, as part of our work, we often trace the history of the land to understand the potential for contamination. I was sold.


As for adding Associates after Trace, we liked it better than Trace Environmental. We thought putting environmental in our name could limit us in the future if we wanted to expand into different disciplines. Trace Consulting was already taken by a non-environmental firm and it just didn’t feel right for us. I looked up the meaning of Associates and liked what I read. The first definition I found, went something like this: “Associates: a partner in business or at work”. Perfect. We wanted the company to be employee-owned from day one, and the Partner Group at Trace is truly the foundation of our company so Associates couldn’t be more fitting.


With the ending, it was our understanding that legal businesses had to end their name with either “Limited”, “Incorporated”, or “Corporation”. Limited sounded like we were limiting ourselves; corporation sounded stuffy; and Inc. just sounded more like us. It just fit us better.


With that, in March 2006 Rhonda and I went to the registry office and registered “Trace Associates Inc.” To this day, I still enjoy saying the name. And I have to admit, I love reading and hearing “trace” in the work across our industry. It brings a smile to my face every time, and I hope it does for you too.