Dick DeVos and Grand Rapids

As the CEO of Amway for many years, Dick DeVos ran one of the most successful family-owned businesses. Co-founded by his father Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel in 1959, the company has become globally-renowned for its direct sales businesses and sports stadiums, but DeVos has developed a legendary status for his business acumen and sales strategies.


In the 1990s, he put Grand Rapids on the map, pulling western Michigan up when most of the state had entered a recession. As more factories closed in small towns and Detroit spiralled, DeVos feared the same thing would happen to his hometown of Grand Rapids.


Instead, he worked with local business leaders to build up the area and promote aviation, as well as the performing arts and business technology. He built a state-of-the-art convention center and performing arts center, as well as a sports complex named after Jay Van Andel.


All of these projects built up the downtown area of Grand Rapids and allowed many businesses to flourish again as traffic returned to the area. However, that wasn’t the strategy that changed the fate of Grand Rapids forever.


To aid in his strategy for business tourism, DeVos also partnered with the local airport’s CEO, helping the airport completely turn around its stagnant sales and old technology by 2019. Throughout the early 2000s, DeVos worked with airlines to support a multi-million dollar renovation called the Gateway Transformation Project. This brought millions of travelers through the new Gerald R. Ford International Airport. It also won several awards as new technology was added, improving convenience, security, and business traveler areas.


In 2017, DeVos was invited to the Federal Aviation Administration’s advisory council, which included transportation policymakers, former airline executives, and aviation engineers who wanted to improve airport technology, flight operations, aviation commerce, regulatory practices, and so on. DeVos became an incredibly valuable advisor to the FAA on airport renovations, new technology, and other innovations that would hopefully set America above foreign markets.