Dick DeVos was recently appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration. He is now one of 13 members of the FAA’s Management Advisory Council. While he may not have worked in aviation, DeVos certainly has helped the aviation industry and his hometown of Grand Rapids. As a prudent business leader, his work has helped grow the economic opportunities for his hometown.
In the 1990s, Grand Rapids was looking to build a multi-purpose sports and convention center that would helpfully drive opportunities in downtown Grand Rapids. Dick DeVos worked to block the deal as he saw too many similarities to what had happened to Detroit in the 1970s. At the time, the city had spent itself financially on building the Pontiac Silverdome, only to have the Lions and Pistons leave. This led to a dramatic decline in economic opportunities for Detroit and ultimately bankrupted the city.
The DeVos family is a champion for Grand Rapids growth. The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation has donated over $184 million dollars to charities in the arts, education, health services, family centers, community organizations, and aviation. The couple has even co-founded an aviation school that is located right on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Their contributions have built up the city. As the CEO of Amway, Dick DeVos worked to do something even greater for the city. He wanted to bring in new air traffic to the airport and set a plan forth to woo Air Tran Airways CEO into helping him. It worked. Air Tran eventually added several new terminals allowing for flights to St. Louis, Denver, and Orlando. DeVos hit a snag when Air Tran Airways was bought out by Southwest. However, DeVos used the same tactic. Through his connections, he was able to talk to the Southwest CEO and convince him not to pull out of Grand Rapids.
This was detrimental to the success of his plan to grow the airport and more opportunities for the city. When Southwest decided to not only stay but expand, it led to a $45 million makeover for the airport, which is something that the CEO of Ford airport has been very grateful for.
While serving on the council, DeVos will be responsible to work with senior leaders at the Federal Aviation Administration to make important changes on policy and budgets for the upcoming year. They also have influence on new regulations and long-term spending plans to help improve the aviation industry as a whole. The CEO of Southwest has commented that Dick is an incredible business leader and will have no problem taking on this new role.
DeVos, the husband of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is the oldest son of Rich DeVos, who helped co-found Amway. DeVos, a self-profesed aviation geek and pilot, has a lot of experiencing flying commercially when he helped Southwest bridge over to Grand Rapids. His experience is vital to the success of the aviation industry in upcoming years. Learn more: