Dick DeVos is one of the most respected men in the aviation industry. While he isn’t an airline executive, he has helped the airport at Grand Rapids, which basically placed the area on the map for business travelers. In the 1990s, you wouldn’t have guessed that there even was an airport located in the area. However, there had been an airport since the early 1900s.
The problem was that the area had been stagnant with growth due to the manufacturers and plants leaving the state in the 1990s. After this crisis, many regions were hit hard with recession, including western Michigan. DeVos left his vice president position at Amway to go to Grand Rapids and help the businesses there. He started by bringing all the business leaders together through a committee called Grand Action.
This committee would be responsible for building the DeVos Performance Hall, DeVos Place Convention Center, and Andel Arena. This would lead to even more commerce in the downtown area. The airport was one of the other places targeted by DeVos’ new strategy to bring business travelers to the area and start up a new kind of convention tourism.
The plan worked, and after calling AirTran Airways CEO, he was able to convince the airline to start up new destinations at the airport. This would include new flights to Orlando, St. Louis, Denver, and Las Vegas. The work has led to the airport receiving awards. In addition, the new airport had 3.26 million passengers in 2018.
The airport’s growth is exactly what the FAA is looking to do with its plan for airports across the country. As Trump called out the FAA early on his presidency, the aviation industry jumped into action to change the technology and security at locations across the country. The FAA formed the Management Advisory Council and included DeVos because of his work with the Grand Rapids airport.
DeVos has been working with airlines for many years. His business acumen has led to great increases for their companies, and obviously, the success is quite visible at Gerald R. Ford International. With new technology such as a business traveler’s area and a new food court, as well as curbside technology, Dick DeVos has become a legend for his work and strategy.
DeVos has been meeting with the FAA since 2017 and will continue to meet with the council for the next year. Already, his work with them on growth and budgets has led to the $40 million renovation of the GSO Tower.
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