Dick Devos: Businessman and Philanthropist

Most people know who Betsy Devos is, as she is the US Secretary of Education, and her husband is equally as famous. In the business world, he is known as the CEO and president of Amway, although he hasn’t been working with the company in years. Currently, he owns The Windquest Group which helps companies like Boxed Water. Dick Devos was recently appointed to the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. The move struck some as odd seeing as Dick Devos has never been an airline executive nor worked as a transportation authority.

 

However, they would be wrong to assume that he hasn’t worked in the aviation industry and helped airports expand exponentially. For the past two decades, Devos has been working with the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, which is Devos’ hometown. Devos has spent many years working with the CEO to expand the airport from its humble beginnings as a small international airport with historical value to a world renown airport built to accommodate international business travelers.

 

The airport recently underwent a large scale renovation that cost $45 million. However, it was paid for by the airlines instead of the airport. Devos has been behind some of the best moves to expand the airport over the past decade. This includes when he talked to the Air Tran CEO in the early 2000s to add new flights to the airport.

 

At the time, the airport had been in a slump with slowly declining ticket sales. The CEO reached out to Devos for help, who put in a call to his colleague and friend the CEO of Air Tran. He convinced the CEO to open up new locations and see how they would do. The response was tremendous. People were able to book flights immediately to areas like Orlando, St. Louis, Vegas, and Denver, which increased the popularity of the small airport dramatically.

 

Over the years, Devos has gone to bat for the airport, including when he talked to the CEO of Southwest about keeping open the terminals that it had planned to shut down. When Devos was able to convince Southwest of this, he was able to show that the airport could bring in even more ticket sales if it was expanded.

 

That’s not all. Devos is also involved in pilot education and has co-founded an aviation academy on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, allowing the airport to train pilots and bring them into the workforce quickly.

 

To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.

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