Do you know the DeVos family? They are one of the largest and wealthiest Republican families currently in Michigan. Richard DeVos was the co-founder of Amway, a Fortune 500 company responsible for many arenas in the United States. However, Dick DeVos did not exactly follow in his father’s footsteps directly. He worked with Amway in the 1980s but after leading record-breaking sales, he turned to philanthropy and working with business leaders in his hometown.


DeVos wanted to affect change at home. He wanted businesses to be more successful in the central parts of the city, and he was wary of what had happened to many businesses in Detroit after the teams abandoned the central downtown areas, such as the Pontiac SilverDome.


It was clear that there were plans to build up Grand Rapids, but DeVos shied away from any plan that didn’t place commerce directly in the business district or at the center of downtown. It was the DeVos Family Foundation that funded many of the changes in the downtown parts of the city, including the creation of the DeVos Performance Hall and DeVos Place Convention Center. There was even a sports arena built called the Andel Arena.


All of this came from Grand Action, which was a committee formed by business leaders in Grand Rapids. While DeVos worked with Grand Action, he also had solo partnerships, such as his work with the CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. DeVos is actually credited for saving this airport due to his business deals and negotiations in the early 2000s with the airlines at this once small airport.


Now the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is doing major ticket sales with over 3.26 million passengers in 2018 alone. This number wasn’t even projected to be hit until 2020. However, the airport has experienced extreme growth in just a few years. In fact, the airport also received funding upwards of $45 million for the Gateway Transformation Project. This project would upgrade parts of the airport and build a new business traveler center. It would also add new options and convenient roadside services to the airport.


From these actions, DeVos received recognition from the CEO of the airport as well as CEOs of airlines that he worked with while at the Gerald R. Ford International airport. This included the CEO of Southwest. Through his actions and strategy, he was able to take a failing airport and turn it into a profitable one that could service multi million passengers in a single year.


DeVos has been meeting with the Management Advisory Council since his appointment in September 2017. He now joins his wife Betsy DeVos, the 11th US Education Secretary, in Washington. It’s unclear if he will pursue any other type of political career, but he has been steadily working with the FAA in Washington throughout 2018 and 2019.


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