You may have seen the DeVos name a lot in the news. While it started with Richard DeVos in the 1970s thanks to Amway Arenas, his son Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy DeVos have been leading the family’s name through a political period. Betsy DeVos is now the 11th US Education Secretary, while her husband Dick DeVos recently signed up to work with the FAA. He will now be advising the FAA as part of their management advisory council.
The council is made up of 13 members from transportation, business, and airline executive backgrounds. DeVos is the only one who comes from a pure business background, but his experience with renovating airports and growing airline sales has become legendary. His work was first noted with the Grand Rapids airport.
Throughout the 1990s, Michigan was in decline. Western Michigan was the only area that seemed to be growing. Grand Rapids was the hometown for the DeVos family, so Dick DeVos had a special interest in the area. He started working with local business leaders to build up the downtown areas of Grand Rapids, hoping to bolster economic activity. It wasn’t before long that he had formed a committee called Grand Action. Together, they were responsible for the growth and change around Grand Rapids.
Now the city is a wide metropolis, booming with growth and new business developments. However, it all started with a few construction projects downtown. These included the Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center, and DeVos Performance Hall. While these buildings had become essential to the skyline, before there had been nothing in place of them. It seemed that they were necessary to keep the growth going in Grand Rapids.
The airport was the next to receive Dick DeVos’ attention. He had a strategy to combine with the convention center, and it all started with the nearby airport. While Grand Rapids had always had a small international airport, DeVos saw that it could be so much more if he talked to the right people. He started with the CEO of AirTran Airways and convinced him to open up four new flights at the Grand Rapids location.
The four new flights included Orlando, Denver, St. Louis, and Las Vegas. These destinations were not only popular for entertainment reasons, but they were big business destinations. DeVos saw that if he could get on the same circuit as other conferences and conventions, then he could join the destination list. It happened to work out well for the area, and it allowed business to boom even further at the airport.
Now the Grand Rapids location is seeing 3.26 million passengers per year. The new growth has allowed for the airport to change its security, making it faster to get through the airport with new technology.
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