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When Your Company Is Named Covid, You've Heard All The Jokes

In February 2020, Norm Carson was attending a trade show in Amsterdam, when news about the coronavirus hit.

"We went in that day thinking we'd see some customers, do some training and it'd be a regular day. And then before you knew it, they had announced the name," he says.

That name was COVID-19, and Carson is the CEO of Covid Inc. The Tempe, Ariz.-based company has been around for decades, and its cables and other audiovisual equipment are sold around the world.

Carson remembers posing for countless pictures in front of his company's sign at the trade show that day. "And then it started to hit me that this might be a deal," he says.

Because Covid Inc. sells its products through dealers and distributors, the unfortunate turn hasn't driven a lot of publicity to the company, Carson says.

"For the most part, it hasn't affected us a lot that way. It's made for more good stories, I think," he says.

Like the people who see the sign on the company's building and come in looking for a COVID-19 test. "And so we always have to explain to everyone that, you know, we don't do that. We're not associated with the pandemic at all," Carson says.

Company officials originally wanted to name it Video Company, or Vidco for short, but there were already a number of other Vidcos, Carson says.

"So they decided to have a contest and the UPS driver at the time came up with the name Covid instead of Vidco."

Carson takes the situation in stride.

"You know, it's a serious thing," he says. "Obviously, a lot of people have been affected by this [pandemic]. People have died over this. So we take it seriously. But the coincidence of a pandemic being named after your company, I mean, what are you going to do but laugh a little bit?

"You know, we get a lot of customers who always want to come up with our new taglines ... 'Covid, we had it first.' Or 'The only thing that's contagious is our quality.' We get all kinds of jokes from people. And a lot of people call and they talk to us and they just, 'can you believe that?' And you just smile a little bit and say, 'yeah,' and you just tell some of the stories that's happened because of it. But, yeah, it's OK."

Carson says there are no plans to change the company's name. "You know, we've been in business for 40 years. It's part of the story now, I guess."

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.