7 Companies with K9 CEOs: That's Canine Executive Officer to You
If dogs were in charge of a company, what would the corporate structure look like? No doubt, titles such as “Top Dog,” “Head Barker,” and “Canine Executive Officer” would get tossed around like, well, a Frisbee.
Yet more business owners are appointing Fido as their canine commander of operations. Is this canine-inspired tactical marketing, or is the passion for dogs leading these entrepreneurs to let the dogs in (along with throngs of customers close behind)? Even Mendocino County, California, has a “director of barketing” named Hairy Putter for its totally dog-friendly destination. The pooch takes his job very seriously, and so does this pack of dogs who help bolster the bottom line.
Pup on Wheels
Imagine building a company around your rescue dog, giving back to more than 150 local shelters and sanctuaries from your profits, while maintaining brand symmetry with the dog’s image. This is Hendrick Boards, as in handcrafted maple and bamboo skateboard decks. While volunteering at a shelter in California a few years ago, David Hendrickson saw a Chihuahua puppy enter the facility. The dog’s mom had ingested household chemicals, so the little dog was poisoned at birth.
Hendrickson nursed William back to health and now helps animals find loving homes while donating 20 percent of a product price to local animal nonprofit groups. “It’s not about marketing,” the proud pet parent reports. “William is a constant reminder internally of why we are all here.”
A Monkey and a Holiday
That title got your attention, didn’t it? Abe Geary of Camarillo, California, counted on the same thing when he named his dogs. His 1-year-old Terrier, Monkey, and 7-year-old Giant Schnauzer, Billie Holiday, assume their respective roles as chief executive officer and chief barking officer for Pet Paint, a company that makes nontoxic fur colorings for pets.
Monkey started as trade show staff and rose through the ranks because “nobody wanted to talk to us anymore, they only wanted Monkey,” according to Geary. How do the dogs earn their keep? Their responsibilities include letting co-workers know when the UPS man has arrived, staring at the treat drawer, and being the only employees who can pee on the carpet without punishment.
Take media relations and send it to the dogs, and you might come out with something resembling KolbeCo, Lauren and Scott Kolbe’s marketing resource business near St. Louis. So very much does this company believe in dogs at the helm that it even has a Board of Dogrectors!
Dana Manar muses, “We’re not just a passive, dog-friendly environment. Our dogs play a role in promoting goodwill toward stray and unwanted animals in the community.” All employees are welcome to bring their dogs to work, and almost $20,000 has been raised in three years during the annual Frills for Furbabies drive to help animals in need.
“He assumed this role early on, as I acquired him specifically to train as a spokesdog,” dog trainer Rachel Friedman says of her English Springer Spaniel, Bean. When she does her consumer relations work and public speaking events, Bean is often her copresenter.
Along with her pet dog training business, A Better Pet, Friedman has a subspecialty in service dog training, most specifically with autism service dogs. She reveals that Bean is an excellent judge of character and a great example of what a well-behaved dog looks like.
Mo’ attention is exactly what Will Chen’s company, P.L.A.Y. Pet Lifestyle And You, received when he appointed his dog, Momo, to the role of CPO: Chief Pug Officer. I’ve met Momo and can attest to the rambunctious personality of this pint-size pooch.
Chen says having Momo as the CPO is more than just a marketing move -- Momo embodies the brand and has become the company’s mascot. The company even mimics Momo’s “play bow” into its logo, and company staffers get the final seal of approval from Momo before creations are rolled out.
When Shaheed Khan decided to switch careers from architect to running a pet-product business, he was inspired to do so by his Cavalier King Charles, Oliver. Taking it one step, er, paw, further, he named his business after the soulful-eyed pooch.
“Oliver’s Pet Care was named because of the absolute joy our dog brings to us,” Khan beams. Those must have been some pretty big eyes of melted chocolate, Oliver.
As the CEO of California Animal Rehabilitation, Tate started her path in life as a “practice dog” to have veterinary students learn to do spay surgeries in their training. The German Shepherd/Border Collie mix was adopted by Jessica Waldman, and her life changed. Waldman reports that Tate supported her through vet school, her internship, and eventual general practice, so naming her CEO was a natural progression.
“Tate was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at 8 months old," she says. “I decided she wouldn’t have surgery, but I wanted to keep her healthy. This sparked my interest in animal rehabilitation."
Do you know any companies with canine staffers? Is your workplace dog-friendly? Let us know in the comments.