Dick Devos is one of the most prominent businessmen in America. With his former status as President and CEO of Amway, he was able to transcend global marketplaces and rake in record-breaking sales for the company. His business acumen is legendary in other circles as well, and it’s one of the reasons that he was named to the Federal Aviation Administration’s new council in September 2017.
For many years, Devos has worked alongside the aviation industry. All of this started in the 1990s when he was trying to help his hometown rapidly grow into a predominant city in Michigan. The Devos family has always donated to the area, contributing over $134 million. Philanthropy has been their way of helping with cultural arts centers, medical facilities, education, and other community organizations.
However, Devos has always been a fan of aviation as well. In wanting to grow his home city, he looked for ways to strategize a new industry, a new way of bringing people to the city he loved so much. That started with the Devos Performance Hall and Devos Place Convention Center. Then, he looked to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport as a way to solidify that strategy. He talked to the CEO about expanding what the airport was doing, including new flights that would increase the likelihood of Grand Rapids becoming a place where business conferences were conducted.
He started by working with airlines like AirTran Airways. The CEO was a friend of Devos’ and he was able to help by opening up new destinations to some of the prime business conference cities, places such as St. Louis, Vegas, Orlando, and Denver. Once those terminals were opened, new ticket sales were up as well, and the growth became easy to see for the airport.
The airport had many changes that were still necessary to make it a business traveler’s airport, but those would not come until much later. In 2018, an estimated $45 million would be put into renovations that would include a business traveler’s center and food court upgrades, as well as new technology throughout the airport. It was these types of changes that would solidify Grand Rapids airport as a place where business travelers were welcome, and it would help set up the area as a business destination.
Strategies like this are what the FAA is looking for in order to grow and upgrade airports throughout the country. Their plan for the council was to help with policies and regulations that were receiving updates throughout 2018. This came after President Trump criticized the aviation industry in America, stating that it had fallen behind in other markets.
Now Devos will be working with the FAA for another year, meeting with the council every quarter to help decide on future budgets and regulations. His insight will come from his business acumen, but also from his education within the industry. He has co-founded a pilot training school in addition to being a pilot himself. It’s this passion that has made him such a good candidate for the civilian board.
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