Dick and Betsy DeVos Continue Their Successes
These days, he’s best known for being the husband of the U.S. Secretary of Education. But Dick DeVos is also a force to be reckoned with, especially in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
His first major success was stopping the construction of a sports convention center in 1991. Having seen the negative social and economic impact that convention centers had had on other major cities, DeVos didn’t want the same thing to happen to Grand Rapids.
He formed a group called Grand Action to join the efforts of local business leaders who wanted to act in the best interests of the community. Together, they lobbied against the convention center and got the plans scrapped.
Some people might have been content with their success and moved on, but that kind of thinking has never applied to DeVos. His father founded AnWay, one of the biggest direct sales companies in the world, and he was raised to be its heir. He knows how to get things done and isn’t afraid to make them happen.
His wife, Betsy DeVos, shares a similar philosophy, and this is one of the reasons why she was tapped for the U.S. Secretary of Education job.
The mega-couple has overseen many joint ventures, especially in the world of philanthropy. They’ve opened schools, made million-dollar donations to children’s hospitals and even started their own charitable organization called the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation.
DeVos has also completed other solo projects as a business owner and leader. A few years ago, he cold-called the CEO of AirTran Airways to propose that the airline run non-stop flights from Grand Rapid’s airport. The two men entered negotiations and eventually agreed on a deal.
AinTran Airways was later purchased by Southwest Airlines, but DeVos didn’t miss a beat. When the new bosses were wondering whether to cut or continue services with the Grand Rapids airport, DeVos took a confident approach.
“We don’t think you should continue service,” he told them. “We think you should expand service in Michigan because this is so good.”
The tactic worked, and instead of cutting flights from Grand Rapids, Southwest actually increased them to several major cities.
The result was staggering. The airport started growing in passengers at twice the national rate. They added new restaurants, bathrooms, business centers and security stations. They unveiled a $45 million plan for renovations.
In 2017, DeVos was tapped to join a civilian management advisory council to the FAA. It’s a prestigious position with a lot of responsibilities, but the U.S. Department of Transportation looked at his background and knew that he had the right qualifications as both a business leader and someone who had experience in the aviation industry.
Today, Dick and Betsy DeVos are still committed to making positive changes in their community. Despite their success as highly visible figures in the Republican party, their first priority is always the homestead.
The DeVos team is having a great decade, and they don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
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