Dick DeVos has recently joined the ranks in Washington DC. He becomes the 13th member of the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. Along with transportation policymakers and aviation business leaders, DeVos joins as one of the seasoned business leaders who has helped the airline industry by working with the Gerald R. Ford airport.
In the late 1990s, the airline industry was suffering. A series of poor standards and expensive prices led to a bottleneck that nearly crushed the industry. Gerald R. Ford International Airport out of Grand Rapids had been one of the airports in slow decline. However, Dick DeVos saw an opportunity to change the airport’s fate and breathe life into the old airport.
For many years, DeVos worked with business leaders around Grand Rapids, even before he became the President of Amway. He saw that business leaders were struggling to bring in new business to Grand Rapids. While there were a lot of businesses that were still making it in downtown, others were looking for ways to bring people back to the city center and grow the businesses in the central district.
There were plans in the early 1990s to bring a mega sports center and convention center to Grand Rapids. However, the plans placed the sites away from downtown. DeVos was one of the people against this course of action, mainly because he wanted to see businesses being built up around the central business district. He formed Grand Action with fellow business leaders to support new sites that would attract people to the growing downtown business area.
However, his real plan was to look at the airport and create opportunities for airlines as well as the Gerald R. Ford airport itself. He made a phone call to Air Tran Airways in the early 2000s and asked about how the airport could get more terminals and flights for the airline. Air Tran Airways eventually agreed to open up new flights to Denver, Vegas, Orlando, and St. Louis. DeVos saw the opportunity to great a business travel destination out of Grand Rapids, as it was already servicing Canadian and Northwest business travelers.
Eventually that led to Southwest taking over Air Tran Airways. DeVos noted that many of the airport terminals were being shut down from the old Air Tran Airways, and he again spoke to the CEO of the company to persuade Southwest to keep the terminals open so that the airport could show its worth.
Many years later, the terminals are still open and have been added on since that phone call. There has also been a $45 million renovation project for the airport that has added a business center, new food court, technological upgrades, and upgraded terminals as well.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.