Dick DeVos is a quintessential American businessman. As the former head of Amway, he led the company to multimillion dollar sales in a variety of industries and has been one of the biggest sponsors for sports arenas around the world. However, DeVos has also been an influential business leader in his hometown and within the aviation world. Many people did not know this fact until he was recently appointed to the Management Advisory Council by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The new council is comprised of 13 members, including DeVos. The members will meet on several issues to discuss about the aviation industry, of which DeVos is quite familiar being a pilot himself. He has also worked closely with many in the airline industry, hoping to persuade airlines to create new opportunities and terminals at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids airport went through a re-launch in 1999, becoming the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. However, the airport needed a lot of work to become profitable. DeVos was asked by the CEO to help the airport with new ideas and expanding with airlines. DeVos was able to make a call to one of his connections, the CEO of Air Tran Airways. The CEO and DeVos talked about a variety of things on the call, but DeVos was able to persuade the CEO to add new terminals including St. Louis, Vegas, Denver, and Orlando.
However, a few years later Devos had to work with the CEO of Southwest to keep those terminals when it took over Air Tran Airways. Southwest was shutting down a number of different terminals. DeVos didn’t want Grand Rapids location to be next. He talked with Marlboro about keeping the terminals and even expanding them in the future, due to the numbers and growth in the area. While the CEO was still debating, he decided to go with DeVos and keep the terminals.
There were other things that DeVos was delving into with the business leaders of his hometown. He wanted to affect change in a variety of ways, including the formation of Grand Action, which was a committee of business leaders in the area. The economy of Grand Rapids needed quite a big boost, but DeVos didn’t want to build in certain areas that wouldn’t affect the downtown business district. He was reminded of the problems facing Detroit and wanted Grand Rapids to become a beacon of change.
This is why he worked with business leaders to create opportunities downtown that would lead to greater economic booms for the city. He also had his sights on building up the airport to improve the global economy for Grand Rapids as well. In fact, he did both and continues to support the city through great city planning and philanthropy.
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