Even if they survive a possible global computer meltdown, some Utah business owners will face a dilemma of millennial proportions when the calendar turns to Jan. 1, 2000.
Patricia Kernie, for one, already is struggling with a vital question.Should she stick with the name 21st Century Travel, which has served her Salt Lake business well for 10 years? Or should she change to something less century-specific?
"The original idea behind the name was that our agency was doing more futuristic type of work in the travel business," Kernie said. "We were kind of trying to help project people into the future with our name and suggesting we were an innovative travel agency. . . .
"Ten years ago, the 21st century seemed a ways away. Now it's only two years."
Across the country, hundreds of business names that were chosen to sound progressive and cool soon may project the image of a company that is behind the times.
Some of the companies that are facing this time warp have opted to get rid of the numbers and start anew, like national computer retailer Gateway, which is building a production plant in Salt Lake City. Until April, it was known as Gateway 2000.
But others say they will stick with the names their customers know, even if the monikers mention the past.
Robert Harman started 20th Century Lites in Salt Lake City in 1952. He doesn't remember why he chose that name for his electric sign manufacturing business, but he is sticking with it.
"You start to change it, and you could complicate a lot of things, especially since we've incorporated under that name," Harman said. "We'll just live with it and see what happens."
Ramona Smith, owner of the Style 2000 hair and nail salon in Ogden, said she also plans to keep the name of her eight-year-old business, despite the occasional ribbing of her customers.
"They've joked about it a little bit. They ask, `What about when it's 2001?' " Smith said. "But I think we're going to go with it."
J.D. Hutchison, city director for the Lifestyles 2000 fitness center in Sugar House, said that company has been in business for more than 30 years. It changed the name of its fitness centers to Lifestyles 2000 five years ago because it wanted to sound progressive, he said.
"Every time that we've brought it up - should we change it to 3000 or whatever? - we've changed our mind, just because the name is so well-recognized," Hutchison said. "Two thousand is a generic number. I don't think (getting to) 2003 or 2004 or 2005 will mean 2000 is behind the times."
On the national stage, Twentieth Century Cos., a Kansas City, Mo., mutual-fund company, renamed itself American Century Investments when it acquired the Benham Group in 1995. But it still has funds that, in a few years, will be named after a bygone era.
And entertainment giant Twentieth Century Fox is covering both bases in the name game. Spokeswoman Florence Grace said there are currently no plans for a change, yet the studio has locked up the rights to Twenty First Century Fox with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Kernie's problem is on a smaller scale, but she still is not sure which route her business will take.
"I guess we'll just kind of see how things progress, and we might, some time in the not-too-distant future, change it to take the century out of it," she said. "What do you think?"