Dick DeVos Has Joined the FAA
With his work in business, Dick DeVos has always been a legendary leader. Many people look to his ability to make connections and relationships as a major strength in his communication, but it’s also his ability to strategize and build up revenue. He is credited with putting Grand Rapids on the map with his work in his hometown, too.
In 2018, Richard DeVos Sr. died at the age of 92. He had been the co-founder and owner of Amway. His son Dick DeVos had also worked at Amway in the 1980s, bringing in record-breaking sales as Vice President of Global Sales. However, in the early 1990s, DeVos wanted to quit all of that. He had recently married Betsy DeVos, who is the current US Education Secretary.
DeVos has always had ties to the Republican Party, but he wasn’t politically motivated when he helped out Grand Rapids. He simply wanted to make his hometown a better place following the economic downturn in Michigan in the 1990s. In 2006, he ran for governor of Michigan, and while he didn’t win, the race was close. He saw that it was time to work with local leaders to build up Grand Rapids even further.
He connected with the CEO of AirTran Airways in the early 2000s. He explained his plan for business travelers at the airport, and he wanted to know if the airline would open up new flights. At the time, the small airport wasn’t doing much business because the number of flights was too low. After that one phone call, however, the ticket sales boomed, and many people thanked DeVos for getting on the phone and asking an executive with such a bold request.
Over the years, the airport has grown, and now there are over 3 million passengers per year. The airport wasn’t even supposed to hit those numbers until 2020. With an award-winning new design, the airport is still undergoing renovations under the Gateway Transformation Project. The total cost of the renovation is around $45 million, but it has transformed the airport into a technologically sound airport.
Many have praised DeVos for his ability to put Grand Rapids on the map. He has continued to remain humble and stay on the council, meeting with the FAA once every quarter to discuss new possibilities for airport renovations and policy changes. The FAA will continue to meet with the council through 2020.
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