Several years ago, a phone call between Dick DeVos and the CEO of AirTran changed everything for the Grand Rapids airport. The once small airport is now receiving a ton of upgrades that will be finished in 2018. While this may seem like a natural progression of the city, much of the reason comes down to one phone call that surprised many in the aviation industry.
DeVos is an avid pilot and has been affiliated with AirTran since his days as the CEO of Amway from 1993 to 2002. He helped AirTran expand services to Grand Rapids, eventually leading to the expansion of the airport as a whole.
While DeVos has always been a pivotal business leader, he was most important to the city when he served as the CEO of Amway, his family’s company, he has taken interest in helping his city first and foremost. There have been many occasions when his leadership has intervened to create better opportunities for the city.
For example, he faced a challenge in 1991 before he was even ready to assume the role of CEO at Amway. There were plans spread publicly for the construction of a new sports multi-purpose complex and convention center in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. DeVos did not like the idea based on what he had seen when the construction of Pontiac Silverdome had left the city of Detroit desperate for funds in the wake of the Pistons and Lions leaving in the 1970s.
For that reason, DeVos set out to create a group that would help protect the businesses and people of Grand Rapids. Together, the group created Grand Action. Many of the business leaders had been apart of other construction projects with the DeVos family including the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Performance Hall, and the Grand Rapids City Market.
Through his business connections, DeVos has been able to make great strides for the city of Grand Rapids and plans to take this to Washington as he now sits on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Council. He will now be able to make smart moves for the aviation industry, which the CEO of Southwest can attest have already helped their business have a $48 million success story.
Dick and Betsy DeVos have worked together for their community for many years under the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, which has donated over $187 million to charities. Learn more: http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about