David Collado, BBA '08; MSA '08

David Collado

David Collado serves as president of Happy Howie’s, Inc., a Detroit company that produces all natural dog treats. When David joined the struggling business in 2011, following a short stint with a public accounting firm, he led the transformation to reverse losses of nearly a million dollars, reaching profitability within eight months.

His business success mirrors a personal journey that included relocation from the Bronx to the Dominican Republic at age 13 to live with an aunt. Another relocation to Grand Rapids and a full ride scholarship to attend Grand Rapids Community College helped pave the way to pursue an education at Grand Valley State University. 

On a chance meeting with Seidman Accounting Professor David Cannon at a Home Depot where Collado was working at the time, Cannon learned about Collado’s natural bent toward entrepreneurship. Professor Cannon offered the following advice:  “Focus on accounting. It will provide a foundational knowledge base that will serve you better while enhancing your problem-solving skills – beneficial for life-long career options.”

That advice proved to be fruitful for Collado, who shares that, “Seidman faculty care about students and their success – not only completing the CPA exam – but also in their career choices and employer selection.”

While David’s first position began in public accounting, the attraction to lead a company where he could evaluate its potential and determine new strategies, motivated him to take a chance on a struggling business. Within the first year, his accounting credentials helped to establish credibility and grow the business.

Today, as President of Happy Howie’s, David appreciates how his educational experience at Seidman College influences his business decisions. Whether faced with manufacturing or product demand challenges, David’s educational foundation coupled with team-driven solutions helps to meet the needs of the company.

While achieving economic success for his company and its workers is a worthy goal, David is mindful of a larger aspiration:  to help transform his community.  Indeed, he is making a difference through his commitment to employ individuals returning from the criminal justice system. Approximately ten percent of Happy Howie’s team members are “returning citizens.” As Happy Howie’s seeks to become a nationally recognized brand, it will also be an economic staple for the City of Detroit.

David best summed up his own transformational journey when he spoke on campus a few years ago: “In life and in business, do everything with an eye towards improving the world you live in. Every human interaction, every problem and every project is an opportunity to grow others and grow yourself.”