Although many know him as the son of the late Richard Devos, Dick Devos has been making moves in Washington with his wife, the 11th US Education Secretary Betsy Devos. For many years, Devos has been working within political circles. He even ran for governor in Michigan in 2006. While he was not successful in his bid, he was able to work within his community of Grand Rapids, changing the downtown area into a bustling epicenter of commercialized growth.
That business acumen has helped in many other ways as he has recently been appointed to the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. The council is comprised of 13 members from transportation authority backgrounds to former airline executives. The council meets every quarter to look at new ideas for growth, policies, and regulations. While Devos is not a former airline CEO, he has led Amway as CEO and President, which makes him one of the most qualified in terms of business experience to servce on the council.
There is one other event that makes Devos a near-legend in business. The expansion of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is one that many in Grand Rapids would have never seen coming. For one, the airport had been around since the early 1900s and was older. There didn’t seem to be much need for another airport in the area. Nevertheless, Devos partnered up with the CEO of the airport to make it so that it would be the largest international airport in the region.
Devos had big plans for the airport. He had a passion for aviation and had learned how to fly when he was young. He had always worked with the CEO of the airport in the past, as he was the co-founder of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, which was located on the grounds of Gerald R. Ford.
The airport relaunched in 1999 to abysmal ticket sales growth. It was the first thing that Devos did to change the fate of the airport. He called up the CEO of AirTran Airways and asked if he would open up new flight destinations at the Grand Rapids location. He talked about the plan to turn the area into a business traveler’s dream. The CEO agreed and opened up flights to Vegas, St. Louis, Denver, and Orlando, which were other popular business traveler destinations.
Almost instantly the ticket sales picked up as people were finally able to book flights to other areas besides New York City and regional flights. Grand Rapids had finally became a larger airport than others in the area over time, but it required help if it was going to grow. Devos partnered up with several airlines to put together a $45 million renovation deal that would build a new business traveler center and food court area for the airport, as well as expand terminals.
The new airport was going to be one of the newest points of interest for those who were looking to go to conventions. It was also going to be an easy station for international travelers from Mexico and Canada.
The FAA appointed Dick Devos due to his business acumen in aviation as well as his knowledge of education in the industry. As the co-founder of an aviation charter school, he was able to support the growth and education of pilots, which had also helped Gerald R. Ford International Airport stay afloat for many years. It was this training school that was able to keep pilots coming into the industry as it’s one of the only schools that trains expert pilots.
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