Most people know Dick DeVos as the CEO and Founder of Amway Arena. He has been involved in many other markets and industries, and most recently, he was elected to the Management Advisory Council by the Federal Aviation Administration. The new council consists of 13 members from transportation and security, as well as former airline executives. While DeVos has never owned his own airline, he is a pilot and owns his own jets as well. He has worked with a number of airlines and airports as well, but his closest relationship is with the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids.
While many don’t realize that DeVos is a passionate aviation enthusiast, they mostly focus on his beginnings with his wife Betsy DeVos, who is now the US Secretary of Education. For many years, Dick and Betsy DeVos worked together on a number of projects in Grand Rapids and Michigan, building up their communities through philanthropy and city planning. Dick DeVos was personally involved in the formation of Grand Action, which was a committee in downtown Grand Rapids that brought all of the business leaders together.
Grand Action and the DeVos Family Foundation helped create many of the buildings in downtown Grand Rapids. It allowed for the formation of the DeVos Performing Arts Center, and the DeVos Convention Center. Both of these have contributed greatly to the progress and rise of growth in Grand Rapids. However, DeVos remembers a time when there wasn’t so much growth. In fact, he had received plans to build a sports arena and convention center outside of downtown, which was unacceptable to DeVos. He didn’t want to see what happened in Detroit also happen in Grand Rapids.
He also wanted to work with other ways to bring in new tourists and visitors. He started talking to the CEO of the Grand Rapids airport in the late 1990s, and after the airport relaunched into the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in 1999, he began to reach out to airlines that were at the airport to see if they would expand what they were offering. He wanted to expand ticket sales and bring in new people through Grand Rapids.
The plan worked. DeVos talked to Air Tran Amways CEO and convinced him to open up new terminals to St. Louis, Orlando, Denver, and Vegas. The new terminals allowed new travelers to quickly pick up connections to different convention destinations. DeVos knows how important a good airport can be when you are flying to different destinations, so his experience helped drive the airport’s sales immensely, leading to a massive $45 million expansion project that will be completed in 2018.
DeVos has been praised by the CEO of the airport and the CEO of Southwest for being able to help the airport get around some of the lows in the economy as it has fluctuated briefly. His experience will prove invaluable as he moves into this new position with the FAA council.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.