Most people don’t realize that Dick DeVos is a pilot, as well as the former CEO of Amway. His family’s company has always been there, and he led the company’s growth and sales in the 1980s and 1990s. However, he changed his focus in the past decades to philanthropy and working within aviation. DeVos is now the founder and CEO of the Windquest Group, which helps businesses that want to do something for the world. For example, his firm currently works with Boxed Water. DeVos has also been working as a partner with the CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport to achieve more traffic and put Grand Rapids on the map.
The past two decades have been eventful for the small West Michigan city. DeVos has been working with a committee called Grand Action to build up commerce in downtown through philanthropy and community outreach. This included building projects like Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center, and DeVos Performance Hall.
Now DeVos is working with a different business partner. In the early 2000s, DeVos made one phone call to the CEO of Air Tran Airways, an airline that was at Grand Rapids’ local airport. DeVos asked the CEO if he would be willing to add four new destinations to the roster at the Grand Rapids location. This included Orlando, Vegas, St. Louis, and Denver.
The CEO of Air Tran Airways agreed and suddenly, there was a new flux of business travelers through the location. DeVos’ plan had worked. He wanted to use the new convention center in conjunction with the airport to bring in more business travelers, as well as lots of commerce for businesses in downtown.
Much later, DeVos intervened again to ensure that Southwest would keep the terminals from Air Tran open after the buyout a few years later. Southwest CEO not only agreed but he praised the move by the FAA stating that DeVos was perfect for the position.
DeVos has been working with the FAA for a year now. He meets with the agency every three months to discuss plans for future budgets, growth, policies, and regulations. The council meets every three months and provides their ideas to the FAA, which takes them into account before voting on final budgets and policies. You need only to look at the $45 million renovation project and the new $40 million GSO Tower to understand the influence of DeVos so far.
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