August 22, 2018 · Education

Most know Dick Devos from his time as the President and CEO of Amway. However, Amway is in the rear view for Devos who has recently been getting more involved with politics. His work and campaign for governor in 2006 almost was successful. However, he moved back into the business world after his campaign ended. His wife, however, became the US Education Secretary. Betsy Devos has also helped with a variety of aviation projects, including the West Michigan Aviation Academy, which she helped Dick co-found.


At around the time of Devos’ first departure from Amway in the 1990s, Devos was working with business leaders to come up with more ideas for employment and economy in downtown Grand Rapids. In addition, Devos saw opportunities like the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. His whole goal was to increase what the businesses were doing in the area to bring in more commerce. That started by building up the downtown center and then expanding into other areas, like the international airport.


Devos saw that the airport was the greatest way to employ more people from Grand Rapids and set up a great international flight center for those traveling from Canada and Mexico. Grand Rapids’ airport would eventually become a large international travel destination, but it wasn’t until after Devos made a phone call in the early 2000s. Devos talked to the CEO of Air Train Airways and convinced the airline to put in four new destinations at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.


This helped the airline build up sales, but it also helped the airport bring in new interest for those who wanted to go to new destinations, including St. Louis, Denver, Orlando, and Vegas. After the rise in ticket sales, other airlines wanted to come to the airport as well, eventually leading to a $45 million renovation to help expand the airport. Now the new airport will have a new business traveler area, food court upgrades, and terminal technology additions.


While most people don’t realize that Devos has been involved in aviation, he has been a pilot for many years and retains multiple licenses for jets and helicopters. His work with the aviation academy sets him apart than others on the council as he has both business end training experience. This knowledge gives him some insight into how the market and industry works, as well as how it can be supported by pilots to have new growth.


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