While many know Dick Devos as the son of Amway found Richard Devos, the businessman has had considerable success in his own businesses and entrepreneurship, as well as through philanthropy. Dick Devos started off as the Vice President of Amway in the 1980s, but he would eventually grow out of the position after leading the company to record-breaking sales numbers. He wanted something more challenging. He spent his time working with the business leaders in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
It was in this city that he would make some considerable changes to the city’s development and lead the area to become a greater metropolis in just a few short decades. There has been considerable growth in West Michigan stemming from these activities that Devos took part in during the 1990s.
This would include the construction of several areas around the business epicenter of Grand Rapids. At the time, many businesses were complaining of losing customers or not having any customers due to a lack of commerce and entertainment in the downtown area. Dick Devos joined with those business leaders to develop areas for a convention center, sports arena, and performance hall.
The Devos Place Convention Center would become apart of a larger plan to bring in business travelers to the area. Devos would also work with the local airport. While Grand Rapids had always had a smaller airport, it was at this time that Devos would look to expand it by talking to the airline executives at the airport. He started with AirTran Airways’ CEO in the early 2000s.
He presented his plan to the CEO as a way to bring in more revenue. AirTran Airways agreed and there were four new destinations added to the AirTran terminal at the Grand Rapids location. In addition, they changed the name of the facility to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport after a re-launch in 1999. This would further boost the airport’s traveler appeal.
By 2018, the airport had done a complete 180 and saw 3.26 million passengers going through the airport in 2018 alone. This change was just part of a much bigger expansion which started in 2016. The Gateway Transformation Project would be a two-phased project that would cost $45 million in renovations. The new airport would have much better technology and security with a complete business traveler’s area and upgrades to the food court. Now, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport has won awards for its forward thinking and technology.
Devos has been working with the FAA since September 2017, using his experience as a resource to help other airports overcome stagnant growth and get more funding for necessary renovations. Most airports are looking for funding to help bring new capabilities and beef up security without slowing down lines.
Devos will be meeting with the FAA for another year. The committee meets up once every quarter to discuss policy, budgets, and future plans for growth.
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