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One of the questions I’m often asked is, “Where does the name come from?”

That’s a fair question. I’ve shared what prompted me to start the firm elsewhere, so I won’t go into it here, but most of the plan preceded the name. It came down to the moment when having a name was critical path to launch.

Should I name it after myself? It means something when an owner is willing to put his name on a company, but would that seem a little braggy?

Should I name it after the street where our first office was located (like a lot of old line firms do)? Should I localize it to an area? Maybe. I went through biblical and historic names, too, but they felt too distant or cold for what was going to be a community driven firm.

I worked at it for months. I attended a Commercial Board of Realtors function where the non-family President of Pattillo mentioned that one of the Pattillos was in the audience. That meant something, I think, for that adult grandchild to be mentioned in a gathering of our real estate community in a discussion of how Pattillo had built so much of Atlanta during a critical time.

I worked over it, literally until the last minute.

Dudley Thomas Spade SRE won out. I have three children—Mary Dudley, Hudson Thomas & William Spade.

Mary Dudley is named after Dudley Pillow, my wife’s grandfather. I never met him, but he is universally liked and admired. Those who knew him say he poured into others and I’ve seen evidence of a marriage that I’ll work toward all my days. He fought in World War II and returned to Greenwood, Mississippi to hear his son for the very first time say, “That’s my daddy.” He worked hard to build a farm and a family, but never in that order. He donated the land for one of the greatest schools in the Mississippi Delta, Pillow Academy, and frankly, left us all a bit too early.

Hudson Thomas is named after my father in law, Tom Robertson. He’s a force of nature and one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. He’s stuck with Indianola, MS for a lifetime and hasn’t let up. If you’re related to him, he’ll find you and turn up on your doorstep some day with some great find from the courthouse records of a county in the South that you’ve never heard of. He’ll never let you know how kind or generous he is, and some folks call him the luckiest man in the Mississippi Delta. But the truth is that while no one is perfect, he’s smart and been using his gifts to practice the same George Bailey-style market-driven community leadership that his father and forefathers before him did so well.

William Spade is named after my grandfather, JW Bryant’s cattle ranch—the Bryant Spade Ranch. He’d never tell you what JW stood for but he’d tell you a million times about the time he bought two Packards on the same day and ran one so fast that it burned out a Police cruiser in pursuit (as he’d say, “I didn’ even know they was furlowin’ me. When I saw the roadblock up ahead, I slowed up and asked ‘em, ‘Who y’all after?’). He was crippled with Arthritis at 30, but took the doctor’s advice to go home and prepare to die as a suggestion. He lived to 90, wore cowboy boots every day and loved his twin daughters more than ranching, which frankly didn’t seem possible. He branded every steer on his place with an upside down Spade, and I don’t remember ever asking him why he chose it.

The SRE stands for Specialized Real Estate. The name was long enough, but that specialization was so central to who we are, that I had to include it. It feels like everyone else is trying to be a full service real estate firm and we’re just not. Like these three lives well lived (I should point out that my father in law is still alive), we’re committed to staying within our lane, putting down roots and providing leadership in our area/category.

Shortened (at times) to DTSpade, we’re building a brand around our mission:

Dudley Thomas Spade SRE (DTSpade) is a specialized commercial real estate firm providing excellent brokerage services to Clients and a place where Partners strive to restore the perfection of Creation.

It wasn’t until months later, sitting in a space planning session for our office—confirming finishes, I think—that I caught glimpse of DUDLEY THOMAS SPADE SRE, LLC on the plans and it hit me. I should have recognized it before, but those were my kids’ names. I didn’t put my name on the line, I’ve put theirs. This is important. We’ve got to do this right.

So, night becomes day and it’s Monday morning and here we sit, under this flag, doing it right, putting our back into it and pressing because it’s important. For so many reasons, it’s important.

And, no, unfortunately, you can’t speak to Mr. Dudley. But I really wish you could.