For those who have seen Dick DeVos’ work, the man is a perfectionist with a high business acumen that can’t be matched by hardly anyone. At his father’s company Amway, he was known for his record-breaking international sales, and in the aviation community, he is a legend. He is also known for recovering Grand Rapids when it was headed for a recession in the 1990s.
In addition, he is the husband of Betsy DeVos, the US Education Secretary, and he has helped many businesses through his investment firm. He only invests in companies that are trying to make the world a better place, however.
So how did Dick DeVos get an invite to the Management Advisory Council by the FAA? He was the one who put the Grand Rapids airport on the map in the early 2000s.
In West Michigan, the small airport had always been around. Unfortunately with very little flight operations and an aging airport, it was difficult to get any bookings. Even after the airport revamped in 1999 to Gerald R. Ford International airport, the Grand Rapids location had trouble booking any tickets. However, DeVos came to the CEO with a plan, and he quickly proved why he was a legend.
He made one phone to the CEO of AirTran Airways. At the time, AirTran was one of the largest airlines at the airport. He asked the CEO to open up new flights to Orlando, Las Vegas, Denver, and St. Louis. The idea was simple for DeVos. He knew that if there were more popular destinations to places that people liked to go for attractions and business, he could bring in more people through Grand Rapids.
The plan worked, and by 2017, the airport had surpassed its 3 million traveler goal. In fact, the airport hit 3.26 million travelers in 2018 alone. The airport wasn’t expected to jump back so fast, as projections originally stipulated that the airport would only achieve 3 million passengers by 2020.
DeVos has always shown a keen strategic mind. He worked with business leaders in Grand Rapids through a committee called Grand Action to change much of the downtown area. He wanted to build it up and add in an entertainment district to bring people back to the center of the city. This plan also worked, and much of Grand Rapids has been built up around the downtown area.
As DeVos continues to work with the FAA on new projects, his main focus is to help more airports with renovations and implementing new technology that would help the aviation industry in America as a whole. He currently meets with the Management Advisory Council every quarter to discuss policies, regulations, growth, and budgets for renovations.
Follow Dick DeVos on Facebook.