Dick Devos – Recap

Dick DeVos is an iconic business leader in aviation. His work for Grand Rapids has changed the airport and created a school where students can learn what it takes to be a pilot or engineer. With his wife Betsy DeVos, they have created amazing opportunities for businesses, local communities, and the state of Michigan. Now Dick DeVos is taking his aviation knowledge to Washington.


Recently, DeVos gave a speech after receiving the nomination to be on the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. This panel will serve as a civilian board and will make decisions on regulations, policy changes, budgets, and long-term planning for the aviation industry. The appointment has been championed by the CEO of Southwest, who has personal experience with the former CEO of Amway.


Dick DeVos has had political aspirations before. He ran for the governor of Michigan and lost, but that has not stopped him from helping Grand Rapids and other communities in Michigan. His business leadership has created incredible economic growth for Grand Rapids. With his recommendation, business leaders came together in the 1990s to form Grand Action, a council of business leaders who wanted to support the growth of the city in ways that made sense. Learn more: https://www.crunchbase.com/person/dick-devos


This came after a plan was floated publicly to create a sports multi-purpose complex and convention center. DeVos blocked the construction as he did not want to repeat financial devastation caused by Pontiac Silverdome in the 1970s. Once construction was complete, the Lions and Pistons left the city, leaving the Silverdome useless. It was something that Dick DeVos never forgot and wanted to avoid as he made plans to create better opportunities for Grand Airport.


One thing that has always been a passion for Dick DeVos is being a pilot. He saw an opportunity to grow aviation in Grand Rapids by looking at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. He spoke with Air Tran Airways CEO about opening more terminals at the airport, and when Air Tran was bought by Southwest, he negotiated to keep the terminals open that Southwest CEO was considering to shut down.


These efforts led to a $45 million Gerald R. Ford renovation project that will be completed in 2018. Southwest’s CEO has complimented Dick DeVos on his ability to promote aviation and benefit the city of Grand Rapids. Along with his wife, he has also contributed $184 million through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation. The foundation has given money to aviation projects, community organizations, arts and culture, health services, family services, and education communities. As his wife continues to be a trailblazer in education, Dick DeVos now joins her in Washington to create new opportunities for aviation along with the other members of the council. His work now represents an entire nation and industry. In a speech in July 2017, DeVos said that he hoped to make the best decisions for aviation in the next year.


The FAA council meets every quarter and will have their next meeting in March 2018.