Dick DeVos has been all over the place with his career in the past 40 years. While he started out at his father’s company Amway in the 1980s as the Vice President of Sales, he has moved into his own entrepreneurship and started his own investment firm. He helps out companies that want to make the world a better place, such as Boxed Water. He has also worked hard for his hometown and continues to support businesses and education in Michigan.
Grand Rapids may not even be on the map if it wasn’t for Dick DeVos. After his work at Amway, he resigned and returned to his hometown where he noticed that the downtown was quite slow in traffic. Business leaders were complaining at the lack of commerce, and many of the businesses were leaving. During this time, there were a lot of issues in Michigan with the economy because several factories and plants were moving out of state or out of the country for cheaper labor.
This caused a considerable crisis for many Michigan communities, especially in the western part of the state. Grand Rapids was going through its own recession when DeVos decided to change everything around. He first started working with the business leaders to create more opportunities for growth in the business district. This meant opening up a new convention center, sports arena, and entertainment hall. Now that these areas were bringing in traffic, DeVos would execute the next part of his plan.
He began to work with the CEO of the airport nearby. Throughout the 1990s, the airport had been in decline, but after DeVos started to partner with the CEO, ticket sales went up. Part of this was because he phoned the CEO of AirTran Airways and convinced him to open up several new destinations at the Grand Rapids terminal. This would lead to new flights to Orlando, Las Vegas, Denver, and St. Louis. Since all of these were favorite business conference locations, DeVos saw the opportunity to bring in business travelers to Grand Rapids and their new convention center.
The new plan worked, but there were tons of new ticket sales from other audiences as well. The airport needed to expand, and through DeVos’ planning, he was able to bring in a $45 million investment that would enabled the Gateway Transformation Project. It was this strategy that caught the attention of the FAA.
DeVos started working with the FAA in September 2017. He has been meeting with their Management Advisory Council to help with new policies, regulations, and growth ideas for aviation in America. Each quarter the council meets with the FAA to discuss new policies and ideas. This has led to the renovation of the GSO Tower and many other airport projects.
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