Hathaways Experience Precious

May 23, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — With a wide variety of accomplishments behind him, David Hathaway is now using that experience to help others get ahead.

A successful attorney and former president of Precious Moments Family of Companies Inc., Hathaway is giving back by investing time, money and expertise to help those who are interested in starting or growing their business through the Grand Angels capital investment group.

“My career has been an interesting one,” said Hathaway, who has invested in five area companies through Grand Angels.

For Kim Lavine, president of Green Daisy Inc., Hathaway’s interest and investment could not be more welcome.

“The one great thing about David Hathaway that distances him from almost everybody else I’ve ever met is that he has vision unlike anybody else,” she said. “He’s just a big-picture person. He can put together scenarios that involve building your business over years in his mind.”

Lavine, who has been working with Hathaway to expand her company, has been able to start a line of pajamas and is now in the process of negotiating a book deal based on her experiences as a mother and entrepreneur.

“He’s a mentor of a quality that few people get in Grand Rapids,” she said.

Part of that quality comes from his unique experiences, Lavine said.

Hathaway, who was born and raised in Muskegon, followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming first a lawyer, then a managing partner at the age of 32.

He attended the University of Michigan for his bachelor’s degree, then Valparaiso University School of Law, where he earned his J.D.

He began at Luyendyk, Hainer, Hathaway & DeJong before moving to Landman, Luyendyk, Latimer, Clink & Robb, then Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone PLC, where he still practices as senior counsel.

During his law practice, Hathaway also had many roles in the Precious Moments companies, which began in Grand Rapids in 1974 when artist Sam Butcher expanded his religious drawings into a line of inspirational cards and posters. The line eventually expanded into a $700 million per year company, complete with 7,000 to 10,000 products licensed annually.

Working with Precious Moments was a fulfilling time for Hathaway, who worked with the company to license products such as figurines, books and even films featuring the Precious Moments characters created by Sam Butcher.

“It was a privilege going to work every day,” he said. “I loved those years. They were wonderful years.”

Hathaway said beyond being “purposeful work,” his time with Precious Moments gave him unique experiences in the business world.

“It gave me and everybody with whom I worked an opportunity to explore things you normally would never have exposure to, such as building a licensing program with companies such as Hallmark and Golden Books and being part of the building of an inspirational park,” he said. “Most people never get that chance.”

In a way, it was his wife, Sheila, who gave Hathaway that chance.

“My wife said to me, “You have been called to work for Precious Moments,’ ” he said. “It was her initiative that got me to talk to Sam (Butcher) to work for him.”

With the experience from Precious Moments behind him, Hathaway joined with three local community members to help other companies thrive.

In 2003, Chuck Stoddard, the former chairman of Grand Bank Financial Corp., brought Hathaway, Perrigo Co. Chairman Mike Jandernoa and TLC Group founder Craig Hall together to begin Grand Angels.

“He saw the value and the importance of somebody giving someone else a leg up to start a business,” Hathaway said of Stoddard.

Now there are more than 40 accredited investors who are part of the organization, as well as full-time president Jody Vanderwel.

Hathaway said the investment is meant to spur economic growth and encourage entrepreneurs.

There are currently six businesses that Grand Angels members have invested in. Hathaway said the diversity of companies has been positive, from Green Daisy to a fantasy sports company and technology companies.

“It’s a nice mix of businesses,” he said.

If there is one piece of advice he would give to entrepreneurs, Hathaway said it would be to research and prepare.

“I think that I could not underscore the need enough for thorough and careful due diligence and gaining a thorough understanding of the need for the business in which you are seeking to invest, in the marketplace and the prospective return on capital that you’re looking to achieve,” he said.

Hathaway’s contribution to Grand Angels’ companies goes beyond his monetary investment, Lavine said.

“Besides being a terrific business resource, a valuable mentor and a capital funder of my company, he’s just a fantastic person,” she said. “The things that are important to him are family, faith, integrity and that’s just a rare combination in anybody.”    

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