Luk Ina … What Now?

Posted: February 6, 2009 in Uncategorized

(Warning!  This post is NOT for those that are easily offended!  You have been warned.)

When we were much younger, sarahahoyt and I used to knock around Porto when we were visiting her parents.  On one of those sojourns, I nearly dropped my camera trying to get a picture of a truck going by that had rather alarming letters painted on the side.  Now, to fully understand this, you have to realize that at that time there were a lot of panel vans (and sometimes panel hatchbacks — I am not making this up, as Dave Barry says), and they didn’t have the gauche American habit of painting the sides with company logos, phone numbers, etc.  So, when I saw this particular panel van driving by, I was alarmed by the possible meanings.  It was white, with three large red letters: F A G.

Let me take a moment here to point out that I have several gay friends.  I’m not homophobic, and I don’t make fun of gays.  I am, however, not above making fun of companies with suggestive names who don’t seem to recognize this fact, and I’m pretty sure my gay friends will get a kick out of this post.  This one’s for y’all.

Let me also point out that this particular company is German, and this particular combination of letters doesn’t have the same meaning as in English.  I’m aware of this; save your hate mail responses for something that needs it.

Anyway, back to the story.  I was alarmed.  Was it a specialized police enforcement version of a paddy wagon?  Or maybe some kind of demented delivery company?  I didn’t know.  As I was telling this story to my son robertahoyt this evening, sarahahoyt pointed out that it was a German tire manufacturer and I remarked that I never saw one of those vans again.  For the last twenty-some years, I’ve wondered if I just imagined the incident.  Then I thought, "Hey, it’s the age of the internet.  Maybe I should just look it up."

It turns out the company does exist.  They’re at … wait for it …  Okay, that’s fine, but they seem to be oblivious of the English connotations of their company name, and the more I dug into the company, the more clueless they … well, judge for yourself. 

It turns out that FAG is owned by the Schaeffler Group.  Fair enough.  If you watch the beginning of their video, you’ll notice that their spokesman refers to their two other subsidiaries, "Luk" and "Ina," as words rather than the initials he uses for "FAG," so presumably they’re sensitive to what could be an embarrassing brand name.  However, they didn’t seem to notice that the order of their subsidiaries, their logos emblazoned right there at the top right of the screen, sound out a rather obscene sentence, complete with subject, verb and object.

Looking into their history (the astute reader will note from the URL that they’ve also smartly snagged, you’ll also find that in 1991, they established, without a trace of clue, the "FAG Aerospace Division" (it’s the 4th entry down).

At this point, I noticed that Schaeffler Group had a link to "Related Companies" under the logos, with the entry "FAG Industrial Services."  I couldn’t resist.  I swear I couldn’t.  I should have.  I just about fell out of my chair when I saw their main page, which, like the Schaeffler Group, seems to be oblivious.  That page prominently promotes — again, I am not making this up! — the new "FAG Detector III Plug and Play."  Apparently, it "provides easy access to the world of vibration monitoring."  Um … I really don’t know what to say to that.

Also, this particular product has its own website as well,  And the product has a slogan, "Easy handling – low costs."

Oh, I really can’t dig into this particular company any more.  My irony alarm is just too loud.

  1. argonel says:

    Oddly enough I had to go to in the last week or two for work related purposes. I was mildly suprised that it wasn’t blocked by our web censor.

  2. onyxhawke says:

    I think my irony meter needs to go back to the smelter…

  3. brownkitty says:

    I would say “only you can find something like this”… but that would be incorrect, and that’s the reason I love my friends so much.

  4. masgramondou says:

    I should point out that across the pond we think fags are things you put in your mouth and smoke. And err yes, just as with rubbers/erasers this can lead to embarrassing miscommunication when some poor englishman says he’s going to the shop to pick up some fags.

    • danielmhoyt says:

      Oh, I know that, and the verb form, too. (When I was a kid, I told people, “I was fagged after mowing the lawn” — an example sentence I found in one of our dictionaries — just to see their reaction. I was a baaaad kid!)
      But this company has a plant in Fort Mill, SC! I used to live in that area, and I guarantee they don’t think fags are cigarettes in those parts. I’m sure they politely refer to the company as F-A-G, though, and not say anything else about it — in public.
      At one point, I worked for Policy Management Systems Corp just north of Columbia, SC. The company referred to it as P-M-S-C; Columbians referred to it as P-M-S, as it was called for years before the PC police came calling at the company. In fact, when people asked where I worked, if I said “P-M-S-C,” they had NO IDEA where it was! I had to follow up with “P-M-S, up in Blythewood,” and then there’d be knowing nods. But, NOBODY would publicy point out the inanity of the potential confusion between P-M-S and PMS. (Except one waitress — clearly having a bad day — who thought I meant PMS when I asked “if the restaurant gave discounts for P-M-S” — since P-M-S was large enough to offer discounts at many area businesses and restaurants. I learned to add, “up in Blythewood,” to avoid confusion — this is one of the ways Southerners deal with potentially publicly embarrassing things.)

  5. sulky_girl says:

    my favorite item
    FAG Hand Pump

  6. Anonymous says:

    Company names
    The company I worked for in the late 80’s had a German customer. Dr. Hell (company name). Nuff said…

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