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What’s In a Name?


What’s In a Name?

Why are we called “CircleRock”?

Thanks for asking. I grew up in a late 1950s middle class development in suburban Minneapolis. We lived across the street from a large circle of Kentucky bluegrass and crabgrass, one-eighth of a mile in circumference, with sapling ash, maple, and pine trees around the perimeter. In the northwest quadrant of the circle was a big red granite rock. That rock is the first thing I can remember being intensely curious about — How did it get there? Why weren’t there other large rocks in the circle? If it’s true what the “big kids” say about rocks covering passage to China, surely this big rock is the one that leads to the other side of the world, if we could only lift it.

The circle was our community epicenter. We played baseball there, golf there, kick-the-can there, and endless hours of touch and even injurious tackle football there (ask my older brother about his broken collarbone, which happened precariously close to the rock). We also had an annual summer “Circle Picnic”, when all the neighbor families brought their picnic tables and charcoal grills into the circle. The dads barbecued while the kids had gunny sack races. Mr. Sullivan worked in marketing at Hamm’s Beer Company and brought the professional dispenser with the Hamm’s Bear on it to the picnic every year. Of course, I begged to have my first taste of beer “tom tom tom tom –From the land of sky blue wa-aters…” from that keg, and my teetotaling parents finally relented.

All the while, there was that big red granite rock in the NW quadrant — immovable, timeless, mysterious. Curiosity has driven me my whole life. I’m always asking “Why?”, “Who?” and “How?” And, I think, curiosity is the engine of learning, imagination, and creativity. I value those things. A lot. Moreover, when I first stood before “the big red rock”, I was too small even to climb upon it. Getting my leg up on that rock was the first goal I can remember setting. When I finished my CEO run at Allen Edmonds, I wanted to have a creative name for whatever it was I’d do next. I wanted to stay curious, use my imagination (such as it is) and have new goals. “CircleRock” came to me, made sense and made me smile.

And then one of my outstanding partners at AE, Ross Widmoyer, wanted in. So did Mark McNeill and Mike Lyons, two other key players in our success there. And a longtime friend, Bob Oberrender, was ending his illustrious career as a high-level exec at UnitedHealth Group and — to my surprise — jumped at the chance to partner with us.

We decided to start a new company but not just in the business of selling menswear and men’s accessories. We also wanted to spread good news about admirable men doing admirable things — role models, mentors, inspirations (people you don’t hear enough about today). Suddenly, “CircleRock” perfectly fit our core reason for being. The Circle is the partnerships, friendships, families, teammates, mentees and mentors, and charities of our lives. The Rock is the transcendent American values that we all strive to circle around — unless you’re in a leadership role, then YOU need to be that Rock who embodies those values. Courage, Integrity, Respect, Compassion, Leadership and Engagement. This is CircleRock.

Join us in the Circle!

Best wishes,