Monday, 15 July 2024

Panella: Name change will have negative economic impact on entire Kelseyville community

I firmly believe that changing the name of Kelseyville would be a mistake.

My wife and I set our roots down in Kelseyville years ago. We are raising our three amazing children here. We farm pears and run a manufacturing company here in Kelseyville. We are deeply involved, and invested in the community of Kelseyville.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to purchase Stokes Ladders in 2012. My grandfather, Russell Stokes, founded Stokes Ladders, in his garage, right here in Kelseyville in the early 1960s. Ever since then, we have been sending our Stokes ladders of all shapes and sizes to customers from all over the US and Canada, to South America, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia.

On each one of these ladders over the past 60 something years, we have proudly stamped into the step: STOKES LADDERS, KELSEYVILLE, CA, right at eye level, on hundreds of thousands of ladders. Over the years, the font and styles have changed, but it has always displayed KELSEYVILLE, CA in all caps. There are people all over the world who have seen our name, KELSEYVILLE, CA.

When you change a name, you change a brand, you change our identity. Kelseyville has been building its brand for decades. I recently read a brilliant article by Brian Fisher: “A sucker punch to the people of Kelseyville.” He described in great detail all of the brand work that has been done on our behalf to build the name of Kelseyville into what it is today. He would know more than most the importance of brand recognition as a marketing executive.

I have a great example of this from last June. My brother was married in Palisades, California. I had never heard of this place. I had to look it up to know where it might be. This was pretty unusual as a guy who has lived in California my entire life, outside of military deployments.

I have always been interested in geography, so I am very familiar with the state of California. I didn’t realize until I was there that I was in what was previously known as “Squaw Valley, California.” I bet everyone has heard of Squaw Valley, California. If I were to look up “places to go snowboarding,” I probably would have scrolled right past Palisades to a different name that I was already familiar with.

I want to set emotions aside for a moment, and look at what would happen if we were forced to change our name.

By forcing the town of Kelseyville to change its name, which is interchangeable with brand, you will be doing so in full and complete understanding and recognition of the negative economic impacts you will be imposing on our town.

Business on Main Street is already tough enough. Main Street as everyone knows is the heart of Kelseyville. Any reduction in foot traffic, whatever the percentage, will directly affect Main Street’s bottom line. The bottom line that puts on all the events we know and love here in Kelseyville, and which brings in much needed tourism. The bottom line that affects the local employee’s ability to earn a livable wage.

A name change will have a negative economic outcome for our entire community, either directly, or indirectly.

By forcing this on our town, you will be forcing this reality on all of us, including the citizens you think you are helping.

Greg Panella lives in Kelseyville, California, home of “STOKES ORCHARD LADDERS, KELSEYVILLE CALIF” circa 1960s and “STOKES, KELSEYVILLE CA, USA,” present day.

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