Dick DeVos is a savvy businessman who has initiated many good deals for his hometown of Grand Rapids. He was born in the city and has been working hard to improve it ever since he was a younger man. DeVos attended Northwood University where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He later served with his family’s business Amway and eventually became the company’s CEO. After working with Amway, he went on to run to serve as the governor of Michigan in 2006. Unfortunately, he lost the race to Jennifer Granholm, the incumbent Democrat at the time.
Under a decade ago, Dick DeVos set out to improve his hometown by trying to convince the chief executive officer of AirTran to offer flights out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. He was able to talk his way into a meeting with the airline’s CEO, and a deal was struck. AirTran would run nonstop flights out of the airport in Grand Rapids, and this worked out for a few months until Southwest purchased AirTran. DeVos was now tasked with convincing Southwest to offer service at the airport, and he was able to do so. Before he gave it his best effort, many other leaders in the community had failed to convince the airline to offer services there. Where these leaders fell short, he stood tall.
Instead of talking Southwest Airlines into simply continuing to offer service at the airport, Dick DeVos convinced the airline to offer nonstop flights. He did so by revealing how well the AirTran deal had worked out. During a time when Southwest was trimming its services at other airports, it increased its services at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. It didn’t take long before Southwest was adding new flights at the airport. The success of the airport allowed it it to spend millions of dollars on upgrades in 2018, and its success continues today.
In the past, Dick DeVos has made many moves that have made Grand Rapids what it is today. During the 1990s, he helped to put together a group known as Grand Action. The group is made up of various business leaders from the Grand Rapids area that have helped to push forward the construction of important buildings. The group came together during a time when DeVos was focused on shutting down a bad idea that could have damaged the city greatly. The idea was to build a convention center and sports arena close to the city’s downtown region. He knew this would be a bad idea because he had seen a similar idea go south in Detroit many years before. In the end, he was able to stop the idea before it ever became a reality.
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