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Dick DeVos – who is he?

March 12, 2019 - Author: steph - No Comments

Have you seen Dick DeVos in the news? As the son of the recently past Richard DeVos Sr., owner of Amway, Dick DeVos has always worked with his father on various projects, but he is well known for putting Grand Rapids on the map. Like his father, he has an incredible business acumen and once led record-breaking numbers at Amway in global sales.


When he left the company, he started looking at his hometown and wanted to help the business owners there with multiple projects. There were plans to build a sports arena and convention center, but DeVos noted that they were slightly off and not in the right location. He didn’t think it would support business leaders in the central areas of Grand Rapids.


DeVos had been there for the abandonment of Detroit and had seen what had happened to the Pontiac SilverDome when the teams left. The fall of the city happened around that arena. DeVos didn’t want to see that happen with Grand Rapids, so he worked hard to block those plans and create new ones with business leaders. He saw that they could build areas up around downtown businesses just by choosing the right locations and looking at a new strategy.


The strategy was to bring in business conference meetings to the area with a brand new sports complex and convention center. So, DeVos and the Grand Action committee worked on several projects in the 1990s. The first was the building of the DeVos Place Convention Center, then the DeVos Performance Hall, and the Andel Arena. These were going to be magnificent business travel destinations, and DeVos worked with the airport as well.


At the time, the airport was quite small and didn’t have enough flights to the destinations that would be on the business traveler’s list. This included destinations like Orlando, St. Louis, Denver, and Vegas. He worked with the AirTran Airways CEO to get these flights into the airport. Once that happened, ticket sales took off, and Grand Rapids started to grow rapidly.


Now the airport is seeing over 3 million passengers per year. The airport will also complete its latest renovation as part of the Gateway Transformation Project in 2019. Just last year, they added a business center and food court upgrades. Now they will be working on new technology and curbside services.


DeVos joined the FAA’s Management Advisory Council and will be meeting with the civilian board through 2020.


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