Now It's Time

Dick DeVos

Dick DeVos, pilot, and heir to the Amway Corp has always worked for the upliftment and positive changes in the institutions of his hometown. In 1991, he lobbied against the building of multipurpose sports and convention center in the north downtown of Grand Rapids. His campaign was against constructing public facilities outside of the business district, which can become total waste if major activities don’t happen there. DeVos’ campaign led to the formation of Grand Action, a group that is regarded as the driving force behind the DeVos Place Convention Center, DeVos Performance Hall, Michigan’s State University’s medical school, and much more.


DeVos with his wife Betsy, the US Secretary of Education, pushed for the expansion of charter schools and donated about $138.7 million to leadership programs, churches, arts and culture, human services, churches and private initiatives. Education initiatives, advocacy, and philanthropy have been DeVos’ main achievement in the last decades. DeVos backed a Michigan charter school, which is a nonprofit charter academy that provides aviation education for young people. Due to DeVos’ support, the unique public high school has grown from 80 students to 600 students in just a few months. The school has also gotten help from DeVos and his wife, who have donated more than $7 million through 2014, and another non-interest loan of $3 million, so they can expand and equip the academy building.


DeVos’ commitment to education and establishment of infrastructure and institutions, especially in the aviation sector is paying after all. In 2017, he was tapped by the Trump Administration to become a member of the top civilian panel for the FAA. The 13-member management advisory panel is responsible for advising senior management of the FAA on issues relating to policy, regulatory matters, spending, etc. This position suits DeVos because of his work in the growth and development of Gerald R Ford international airport. He was one of the people to make sure that SouthWest offer routes out of the Grand Rapids Airport, which has led to passenger growth and reduced airfares.


DeVos’s approach to ensuring that the airport was successful impressed everyone, including the management of SouthWest. His strategy has always been using small groups to start negotiations, which worked for him. He always emphasized on connecting and engaging people, to achieve collective success that will bring about growth in the community. DeVos’ strategy also involves getting local talents to do exploit and rebranding – including a $45 million makeover paid for by private money. This is the secret behind the airport project that removed it from the list of most expensive airports and turned it into a thriving center, which is now a source of pride to the people of Grand Rapids.


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