Dick DeVos offers a new perspective to the aviation in America. Even though he is not a traditional aviator, his work with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids is legendary. In addition, he has helped the Federal Aviation Administration with their plans to renovate and expand many airports in the United States. These changes came after a speech by President Donald Trump called out the airports in America, stating that they were far below the standards held in other countries.
DeVos has always been a fan of aviation. His work with the airport in his hometown has been nothing short of a business legend. In the late 1980s, DeVos left his job at his father’s company Amway Arena to go out on his own. He started by helping business leaders in his hometown of Grand Rapids. He saw a great need for a new economic center in Michigan after the state went through a recession. As many factories and plants shut down, entire communities in Michigan collapsed. DeVos did not want to see that happen to Grand Rapids.
He helped the city by building up the business district with new infrastructure. This would include the DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown, as well as the DeVos Performance Hall and Andel Arena. These were built to help bring the economic flow back to the business district in downtown Grand Rapids. However, DeVos was not done with his overall plan.
He wanted to expand on Grand Rapids even more. He started by working with the CEO of the nearby airport. While it had been stagnant for many years, he made a phone call to an airline known as AirTran Airways in the early 2000s. This one phone call led to a complete burgeoning of ticket sales at the airport. Many travelers saw the new destinations open up because of this phone call, and they wanted to take advantage of the lower ticket prices.
The airport boomed in growth and its 3 millionth passenger in 2017. This number wasn’t even supposed to be reached until 2019 according to projections. The airport also won awards for his advancements in technology, security, and business travel. It was a model airport that others wanted to follow. The FAA saw it as an opportunity to glean information about how DeVos had helped this airport became a multimillion dollar business.
For the past two years, DeVos has been working with the FAA and providing advice on growth and budgets. He has been in instrumental in the makeover of certain airports, such as the GSO Tower.
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