Jim Gill, CEO of the Gerald R. Ford airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said that Dick DeVos would be a “tremendous asset to the FAA Management Advisory Council.” This came after Dick’s appointment to the FAA’s civilian board in September of 2017. So far, Dick DeVos has joined the 12 other members in two sessions and has been contributing to policies, regulations, spending, and future planning.
This comes at a crucial time for the industry as many airlines struggle to compete with the air fare war driving down fares to less than $200 for a round-trip ticket to Hawaii.
Dick DeVos, well known as the President of Amway for many years and son of Rich DeVos, founder of Amway, has been trying to get into the political arena for some time. His wife, now the US Secretary of Education, has been working in Washington for two years now, blazing a path towards charter school education that has been mired in controversy. However, Dick DeVos is joining Washington on a note that is relative to his experience and passion for aviation itself.
DeVos has been an avid pilot for many years. Since his younger days, he has been flying different aircrafts, including jets and helicopters. It only makes sense that as a business leader, he would look to help his passion grow in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids International Airport was in disrepair in pre-2000 days. This is a time when many airlines were closing or being bought out by larger airlines. Air Tran Airways had a few terminals at Gerald R. Ford Airport when DeVos made a call to the CEO to talk about additional ways to help the airport.
DeVos wanted to create a business travel hot spot in Grand Rapids, and the way he planned to do that was through building up his beloved airport. In addition to new terminals, DeVos also talked to Southwest CEO when the company took over Air Tran a few years later. There were a couple of airports who had suffered after Southwest closed terminals, and DeVos didn’t want that happening to Grand Rapids.
Southwest agreed to keep the terminals. Eventually the growth led to a $45 million makeover that included contributions from six West Michigan employers. DeVos also founded an aviation charter school on the grounds of the airport that teaches students about aviation and becoming a pilot.
DeVos has an amazing history within business as well. He worked with business leaders in Grand Rapids to form Grand Action and build up the city’s downtown business district, leading to more jobs and opportunities for the rapidly growing city. DeVos had been around to see the fall of Detroit and knew that there were smarter ways to build up the city without putting it into a financial debt.
For these reasons and many others, DeVos will continue to be a prominent figure in Washington.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.