The story of Dick DeVos dates back to the 1990s when he became a strategic business leader in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At the time, he was poised to become the CEO of Amway. However, he was still making strides as an up-and-coming business leader, and he was also making savvy moves to help support the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation.
At the time, DeVos saw an opportunity to work with city leaders and build a sports multipurpose complex and convention center. However, the plans placed it away from downtown, which was a problem for DeVos who wanted to keep businesses booming in the city’s business district.
Dick saw other opportunities and advised city leaders against taking such a deal. It reminded him of a deal that Detroit made to build the Pontiac Silverdome, only to have the city go bankrupt when the Pistons left the city and the Silverdome was of no use. He did not want a repeat of that happening in his hometown.
Instead, he helped form Grand Action, a group for business leaders who wanted to keep economic opportunities close to downtown and help build worthwhile ventures that would bring commerce and industry to Grand Rapids.
DeVos set his sights on Gerald R. Ford Airport. As an avid pilot, DeVos saw an opportunity to grow his hometown’s airport and looked for opportunities to do so with different air carriers. He found a way with the CEO of Air Tran Airways after a single phone call. The airline began opening new terminals at the Gerald R. Ford airport after the call.
DeVos had to make more moves as Southwest purchased Air Tran a little while later, and the airline was looking to shutter many of its terminals in different cities. DeVos convinced the CEO of Southwest that it was better to keep terminals in Grand Rapids and watch the airport grow. Southwest ultimately did keep those terminals and that business led to a $45 million makeover for the airport.
Now that DeVos is headed to Washington, he has a new reason to reaffirm his business relationships with aviation leaders. He will join a 13-member Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. The new panel will make decisions and oversee regulation changes, policy updates, budgets, and long-term planning as it relates to the aviation industry.
The CEO of Southwest commended the appointment of DeVos to the council as he has a lot of experience working with the former CEO of Amway. DeVos has a long way to go to really move to Washington, but this appointment seems like a step in the right direction that has been a long time coming.
He will join his wife Betsy DeVos who has been making strides in education as the US Education Secretary. Together, the married couple has donated over $184 million to charities through the Dick & Betsy DeVos foundation. It is exciting to see the couple work together closely in politics and stride to form a better union on policies. Learn more: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20170602/NEWS/170609993/dick-and-betsy-devos