Dick DeVos has always been there when Michigan needed him. Mr. DeVos, an heir to his Amway Corp. fortune, was actually on the path to CEO when his life changed forever. In 1991, he heard about a plan publicly floated around in Grand Rapids. That plan was to build a convention arena and a multi-purpose sports place.
Mr. DeVos had seen this happen to another area in Michigan. It was Auburn Hills. During the 1970s’ construction of the Palace of Auburn Hills and Pontiac Silverdome were built outside of the downtown area. That changed Auburn Hills forever. Mr. DeVos wasn’t going to let that happen to his believed Grand Rapids.
Mr. DeVos Created a Campaign Against Arena and Sports Facility
During that year, Mr. DeVos created a campaign against the sports facility being outside of the central business district. The campaign was called the Grand Action and involved a group of business leaders. The Grand Action was responsible for keep the facilities out of the suburbs of Grand Rapids.
Mr. DeVos was Asked to Bring a Major Airline to the Region
Saving the Grand Rapids skyline was just one of Mr. DeVos’ many successes. Many years ago, he was asked to connect with AirTran Airways to woo it to Grand Rapids’ airport. He didn’t shy away from the challenge. In fact, he did one of the hardest things imaginable. He refused to let the public in on his plans and just cold called the CEO of AirTran Airways.
Mr. DeVos, who calls himself an aviation geek, has never piloted a commercial plane. He did use his love of aviation to connect with the CEO. However, it was the fact that his family owned the Orlando Magic NBA team, which played close to AirTran that helped the cold call become multiple calls.
That one phone call changed to face of traveling in and out of West Michigan forever.
He was able to talk to the CEO into placing the low-cost carrier in West Michigan. His lucky and hard work turned into a bigger moment when Southwest purchased AirTran. This made West Michigan an aviation destination.
Mr. DeVos Helps Everyone who Needs It
As an heir to his family’s fortune, Mr. DeVos has spent most of his adult life attempting to change policies and institutions. He’s been a GOP mega-donor and has used his political influence to make positive changes in everyone’s life. He has also used his influence to make major changes in Michigan laws that affect labor and education. One of Mr. DeVos’ major changes involved helping his wife, now Education Secretary, to promote charter schools and private school vouchers. In fact, Mr. DeVos, created his own aviation charter school in Michigan to help low-income students obtain a better education and learn about aviation.
Mr. DeVos, Michigan’s Son, Works Hard to Be There for the State When It Needs Him the Most
This wasn’t part of Mr. DeVos’ life plan. He was on his way to becoming Amway CEO and helping people through his family’s company. One public plan changed all that. He wasn’t about to let Grand Rapids change for the worse. That determination improved the lives of many people.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.