Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration made some changes, including the creation of the Management Advisory Council. The council consisted of 13 members who help the FAA by providing advice on policies, regulations, budgets, and future growth. The council is made up of former transportation authorities as well as airline executives. However, one name stands out as neither.
Dick Devos was appointed to the Management Advisory Council in September 2017. As the last member appointed, his nomination was praised by the CEO of Southwest, who had previously worked with Devos, as well as the CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. It was actually these two business partners who created a legend out of Devos’ involvement in the expansion of the little executive airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Since the 1900s, Grand Rapids has always had an airport, but it has always been a smaller executive-style airport that didn’t service as many flights as it could. Devos had been obsessed with flying since he was young and had several pilot licenses. He also had private jets and helicopters as well that he flew out of the airport. It was one of the reasons why it was so easy for him to partner up with the CEO of the airport and start expanding.
In 1999, the airport re-launched as the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Devos saw some real opportunities to make the airport into a business traveler’s destination. However, he knew that the airport would have to open up far more flight destinations and terminals to be able to support new business. He saw his first opportunity and seized it, calling the CEO of AirTran Airway to get support. The CEO would be able to open up four new flights at the Grand Rapids location. These flights would include Orlando, St. Louis, Vegas, and Denver.
All of these locations were areas where business travelers frequented for conventions and seminars. Devos was going to see to it that Grand Rapids was going to be another destination for business travel. He worked with airlines to support a $45 million renovation that will be completed by the end of 2018. The new expansion includes more terminals as well as a business traveler center and new food court area.
This story is one of the reasons why Devos has become synonymous with entrepreneur. He has been seen as one of the quintessential businessmen for our time, and he has led multiple businesses to greater heights including the family-owned Amway, as well as several businesses under his private equity firm The Windquest Group.
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