While many can say they know Dick Devos, they probably know his wife Betsy Devos a little bit more. She is the new US Education Secretary and has been making waves through the education reform movement in America. However, her husband now joins her in Washington, but not as what you might think.
Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration put together a civilian board called the Management Advisory Committee. The next few years would be a time of changes for the aviation industry in America. This came after President Trump challenged the FAA to improve America’s aviation industry, stating that it had fallen so far that other areas of the world were far beyond what America’s airports could deliver in terms of technology and security.
In September of 2017, the FAA appointed Dick Devos to the new committee. There are 13 members currently on the council, serving from different areas of transportation authority to airline executive backgrounds. Devos was neither, but he had knowledge of the aviation industry that was invaluable to the FAA. This is all because of his work with the Gerald R. Ford International AIrport in his hometown.
Throughout the 1990s, Devos was looking for major projects in Grand Rapids to build up commerce and jobs. He wanted to see his hometown become as big of a bustling city as Detroit once was and he knew exactly how to do it. He built up areas around downtown through the Devos Family Foundation, including buildings like the Devos Performing Arts Center and a convention center. It was this projects that drove commerce up in the area exponentially.
He wanted to take his success to an area that he was familiar with but only because of his passion for aviation. Devos had been a pilot for many years, but when he began working with the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, he had been the President and CEO of Amway. Known for his business acumen, specifically in international sales, Devos saw that the airport was in dire need of help.
For many years, the airport had not been exactly profitable. It was worn down and didn’t have the same flights that many other airports in the area had. However, Devos saw an opportunity to make the airport into a business traveler’s dream airport. He started by calling up one of his associates at AirTran Airways, who was none other than the CEO. With just one phone call, he got new flights added to the airport. These flights included St. Louis, Denver, Orlando, and Vegas. It was just this simple addition that led to a boom in ticket sales.
New business travelers jumped at the opportunity to go to Grand Rapids for their air travel needs. That wasn’t all. Devos continued to work with the airport, bridging the conversation between Southwest and the airport when the airline took over AirTran Airways in the 2000s. He asked that the CEO not close down the new terminals and showed the possibilities of growth. This led to even more support from Southwest, and finally, Gerald R. Ford International Airport received a $45 million expansion.
The renovation would bring about a new business traveler center and food court area, as well as new technology overall for the airport. Devos is certainly one of the main voices that led to this expansion, and it’s no wonder that the FAA wants his opinion as they begin to look at future growth plans for aviation in America.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.