Entrepreneur Dick DeVos

Have you seen the news from Washington recently? There is a new Management Advisory Council formed by the Federal Aviation Administration. He has been working alongside other members from Transportation and Security departments, as well as former airline executives. However, this is nothing new for the businessman who has spent so many years working with airlines and airports, particularly from his hometown. In Grand Rapids, DeVos is a household name. He has helped many of the businesses in the area, and through the DeVos Family Foundation, he has founded several new areas of downtown.

 

Some of the centers have been around for over 20 years. DeVos began working with city leaders in the early 1990s. He wanted to help the city rise in popularity and grow, and he also had connections to many of the business leaders working in the city. They formed a committee called Grand Action, and together, they built the DeVos Performing Arts Center and Convention Center. The two buildings have contributed greatly to the commerce and economy from the center of downtown Grand Rapids.

 

However, DeVos also wanted to put Grand Rapids on the map for its international airport. DeVos partially had another reason. He was an avid pilot and wanted to see the airport grow. He even partnered with the CEO of the Grand Rapids airport, and in 1999, the airport relaunched as the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. There were all new terminals built, including ones with greater technology, and a food court, but the major support has gone to business travelers. A $45 million renovation at the Gerald R. Ford Airport will be completed in 2018.

 

This comes after DeVos worked with many of the airlines at the airport, helping them to expand and also bringing in new ticket sales for the airport. He started in the early 2000s, talking to Air Tran Airways CEO about expanding the destinations on the list at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Many travelers were not able to get connections to the right destinations. So the airline opened up four new destinations including St. Louis, Orlando, Denver, and Vegas. The new destinations worked and allowed travelers to book new flights, this led to an instant increase in ticket sales.

 

DeVos has been praised for his work at the airport by the Southwest CEO as well. When he was appointed to the council, the Southwest CEO said that it was a good decision as he knew that DeVos was a legendary businessman and had helped Southwest as well. This was in relation to the Southwest CEO talking to DeVos many years ago about the Grand Rapids airport and keeping many of the terminals that it was closing in other airports.

 

The Southwest CEO agreed to keep the terminals open and even expanded the offerings over the years. DeVos makes a great addition to the council for his ability to make these types of connections and see them through.

 

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