Henry Morton Stanley, the 19th century British adventurer, never made it to Japan. But his reputation did. And the exploits of the man who gained immortality for his offhand greeting when he found the presumably lost medical missionary Dr. David Livingstone in Central Africa in 1871--"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"--made a great impression on Takahara Kitano.
When Kitano started a little company making automobile lights at the dawn of Japan's auto age in 1920, he named it after Stanley. Besides, Kitano--no dummy when it came to marketing--figured that as his company grew and expanded outside Japan, Stanley would be a more universally recognizable name.
Stanley Electric Co. came to the U.S. several years ago, setting up a sales headquarters in Irvine. But the subsidiary's name--II Stanley Co.--wasn't quite as catchy.
John O'Dell covers major Orange County corporations and manufacturing for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5831 and at firstname.lastname@example.org