Have you noticed that the Devos family is all over Washington? It may have started with the appointment of Betsy Devos to the 11th Secretary of Education, but Dick Devos has now joined his wife in Washington once he was nominated to the Management Advisory Council by the Federal Aviation Administration. The council was started in 2017 after the president stated that America’s airports were in disarray and lacked the technology of oher foreign markets. The council now has transportation authorities and former airline executives. Devos is one of the unique businessmen on the council to not have a specific background in aviation.
Devos’ experience with aviation business started a long time ago in the 1990s when he was the President and CEO of Amway. He struck up a partnership with the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The airport had been stagnant in growth throughout the 1990s, so when it re-launched in 1999, the thinking was that new ticket sales would finally come. However, the relaunch didn’t help the airport gain any ticket sales.
Devos began to work with the CEO on a new plan. He wanted to help the airport expand by focusing on business travelers and targeting more flight destinations. He spoke to the CEO of AirTran about these plans and got the CEO to agree to add new flights, including Vegas, St. Louis, Denver, and Orlando. These destinations were key to the strategy that Devos had proposed. All of these destinations were prime business conference destinations.
Devos had been working with business leaders in the city to develop new opportunities as well. These included the Devos Place Convention Center, which could help Grand Rapids become more of a business destination as well. Devos made a strategic move to get new flights to conference cities so that he could attract business travelers to Grand Rapids downtown as well.
For the past year, the council met every quarter and discussed what changes should be made to policies and regulations, as well as future plans for growth. The council also helps the FAA decide on budgets. The agency has been updating policies throughout 2018 and has announced multiple changes, including a $40 million tower upgrade for GSO.
It’s clear that Devos has always wanted to be in politics. While he was not successful in his gubernatorial run in Michigan in 2006, he is trying a new avenue into Washington that deals with his passion and business intelligence. It’s the perfect way to get into politics for a man who has conquered almost every market so far.
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