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Dr. M. David Howard’s Legacy of Service

A Veteran’s Journey to Building a Million-Dollar Company

Breaking the Mold

When he graduated high school, U.S. Air Force veteran Dr. M. David Howard noticed most people followed one of two paths: attend the local community college or start work at the paper mill. However, he knew that neither of those options was right for him. 

“I grew up in a small town; I wanted to see the world and do something different,” David said. This unique drive, along with his incredible work ethic, allowed him to overcome several obstacles and become the chief executive officer (CEO) of a six-million-dollar company. Today, David is proof of the incredible results that can be achieved through hard work and determination.

A Legacy of Service

Born to young parents, David spent a lot of time with his grandfather, who had a huge influence on him. “My grandfather was also in the Air Force, and I kind of wanted to follow in that legacy because he’s the one that, for all intents and purposes, raised me,” explained David. His grandfather always spoke very fondly of his military experience and even met his wife while serving in the Air Force. These stories inspired David to enlist in the Air Force following his high school graduation. Additionally, he knew that by joining the military, he would have the opportunity to learn lifelong skills and see the world.

A Distinguished Career

He joined as a crew chief, a flightline maintenance engineer on fire and reconnaissance aircraft. After completing a year of classroom and laboratory training, David was assigned to the 560 Wild Weasels, the last F-4 squadron in the Air Force. For about two years, he worked on Vietnam-era planes and was deployed to several different places, including the Middle East and Haiti. 

Next, David was assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron out of Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. With this unit, he worked on the A-10 Warthog. This unit, in particular, was extremely influential on David, who shared that he “enjoyed that unit very much. A lot of great people, a lot of very influential people in my career came from the 75th.” 

While in this unit, David was given an early (“below-the-zone”) promotion to senior airman. Additionally, he also went to the Noncommissioned Officer’s Academy and Airman Leadership School. David was then relocated to Osan, Korea, where he worked on U-2 spy planes for 18 months.
During this time, he was promoted again to Staff Sergeant. In his new role, David was responsible for all night shift operations and had a group of junior airmen that reported to him. After being on active duty for six years, he decided it was time to begin his civilian career. While he no longer actively served, David remained in the National Guard for several years.

Transitioning to Civilian Life

He started working at General Electric (GE) and decided to pursue higher education at the same time. Because of all the classes he had taken while in the Air Force, David was already close to completing his associate’s degree. He only needed two more classes to obtain his degree, which he completed at Excelsior in Albany, New York. This was a huge accomplishment, not only for himself but for his family as well. 

“I was the first person in my family to actually get any form of a college education,” he shared. 

David continued pursuing his education and completed his bachelor’s degree in only two years. During this time, he was working full-time at GE and raising his daughter as a single dad. He learned at GE that if he ever wanted to be in a management position within his field, having a master’s degree would be a necessity.

Loving and Learning

While working on his master’s degree, he met Megh, who would become his future wife. They were both attending the South High Marathon Dance, an annual fundraiser event for local charities. David had gone back to the dance every year, but this was Megh’s first time returning as an alum. They immediately had a connection and became friends. 

However, as their feelings grew, they started a relationship and today are happily married. With Megh’s support and lots of hard work, David was able to complete his master’s degree. Passionate about furthering his education, David decided to get a doctorate degree. 

“For me, I just had a drive,” he shared, “I wanted to be the first to do it in my family, so I went for it, got my doctorate, and never looked back.” 

To this day, David still continues to educate himself in any way he can. Currently, he is working on an online machine program certification through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

“You’re never going to know everything, and the way the world’s changing with digital media, digital information, big data, cloud data, and artificial intelligence and machine learning, if you don’t stay on top of these things and focus on that continuous learning, you’re just going to get left behind,” he explained.

Beginning Innovations

After years of working at GE, David decided to leave and he became the director of engineering for Commtest Instruments. He was very successful in this position; however, the company was acquired by GE, and he did not want to work for them again. He had signed a five-year non-compete agreement when he left GE, so during this time, he worked on continuing his education and teaching at various universities, including Savannah Technical College. 

After the five years were over, David was ready and eager to get back into his field of work. He and Megh also decided to move back to New York, as they both missed the area. “I was always a proud Upstate New York kid, my wife was the same. We loved the area,” he shared.

When he moved back, David met Dr. Thierry Erbessed. Thierry had already been developing instrumentation used for various machines, and David approached him suggesting they do something together. From there, Thierry, his wife, and brother teamed up with David and Megh. David likes to consider themselves “doctors for machines.” 

They design, manufacture, and sell sensors that are able to diagnose problems in machines. This allows companies to fix any issues unknown to the human eye before a catastrophic failure occurs. Their company differs from competitors because they are focused on creating the best experience for their customers instead of only making a profit. 

David shared that “the success of the business is directly a result of the passion that our employees have for what we do for our customers.”

The Balancing Act

Since the start, the company has continued to grow into a six-million-dollar company, but Thierry and David have no plans on selling the business. 

“We’re not interested because I don’t ever want to work for someone else again. I enjoy working for myself, I enjoy leading the team that has created the company we have today,” he explained. 

Additionally, David enjoys that his business is bringing jobs back into the area. As someone who felt limited in his options when he graduated high school, he is proud that his company is offering more opportunities. David also gets to work closely with his wife, who is the chief marketing officer and director. The two even share an office, and they both understand and respect the other’s expertise and don’t try to overstep.

As a workaholic, David sometimes struggles to balance all of his different roles in life. “It’s a very busy life trying to juggle being an entrepreneur, running a business, being a dad, being a good husband, and also trying to be a good example for the kids and being an active member of the community,” he explained. 

David with his wife, Megh, and their children.

Despite the challenges, he always prioritizes his family. Currently, his oldest daughter, Angela, is taking after her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and owns the Oopsy Daisy Flower Farm. He also has an eleven-year-old, Masen, who plays both softball and soccer and loves arts and crafts. His youngest daughter, Lucy, is a gymnast who recently won second in the state for the beam. He has two grandsons, Tanner and Tatum, whom he loves to visit. 

David also enjoys going to his campsite on the Hudson River, where he sees his close-knit friend group that he refers to as the “circle of trust.” Every year, David goes to Lake George for a military reunion to reconnect with those he served with in the Air Force. Overall, David keeps very busy, but this drive gave him the well-deserved success he experiences today.