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Dick and Betsy DeVos: revamping Michigan

Dick DeVos is one of the top businessman in the country. He has worked with several businesses to improve their sales, and as an entrepreneur, he has started his own private equity firm that partners with businesses trying to make the world a better place. In addition, he has worked diligently to improve the economy of his hometown, changing the downtown from an abandoned business district to a booming city in a matter of a decade.


The DeVos Family Foundation has certainly helped. Dick DeVos, along with his wife Betsy DeVos, the 11th US Education Secretary, have joined forces to co-found the construction of several areas in downtown Grand Rapids. This includes the DeVos Place Convention Center and DeVos Performance Hall. However, these achievements are not what got him the job helping the Federal Aviation Administration.


Many people do not realize that Dick DeVos is a passionate aviator, but if you knew anything about him, you would see that he has been a pilot since he was young, holding licenses for jets and helicopters. However, it was his commitment to his local airport that truly got him recognized for his business acumen.


For years, DeVos has been known as a legendary salesman and entrepreneur. He started out at his father’s company Amway, and he rose their global sales to record-breaking heights. Now as he works with many businesses, he has joined forces with the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The partnership dates back to 1999, when the CEO reached out to DeVos for help. He had just re-launched the airport under the new name and had yet to see a big increase in sales as he was hoping.


DeVos had a plan that he had been working on to bring in new sales. It revolved around adding new destinations that were big ticket motivators. As soon as AirTran Airways added on Orlando, St. Louis, Denver, and Las Vegas to its terminal, the airport was able to bring in new traffic and see significant sales growth.


This is what ultimately helped DeVos get recognized by other aviation companies and airlines. In addition, he was the co-founder of a pilot training school on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school helped students become pilots and train to be flight operators.


DeVos will continue to meet with the FAA for the next year as part of the Management Advisory Council.


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