Dick DeVos has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration for over a year, joining his wife, the new US Education Secretary, in Washington. Betsy DeVos has been on a whirlwind for education reform since her appointment in 2017, but her husband has just been meeting with the FAA in 2018 under the Management Advisory Council. This new council was set up by the FAA in order to handle upcoming policy changes and regulations in a new way.
The council is comprised of transportation authority members as well as former airline executives, but it only serves in an advisory role. Many have wondered how Dick DeVos fits into the FAA. Does he have an aviation background? In fact, DeVos has one of the best backgrounds to work with the aviation agency, although it might not seem like it at first.
Most people know the DeVos name from Amway. Rich DeVos was Dick DeVos’ father, and while Dick ran the company previous to his founding of The Windquest Group in 2000s, he has moved on to his own private equity firm where he helps businesses that want to make the world better for everyone. The Windquest Group represents many non-profit organizations, such as Boxed Water. However, what truly makes DeVos a great pick for the council is his work with local airport in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
The story has become a legend around airline executives. Dick DeVos basically saved the little airport in his hometown from going bust in the early 2000s. At the time, the airport had just re-launched under its new name. While it had been open since the early 1900s, most travelers did not use the Grand Rapids airport around the area.
That was all going to change. Dick DeVos made a phone call in 2000 to Air Tran Airways and asked the CEO if he would open up new destinations at the airline’s terminal in Grand Rapids. The CEO agreed, and there were four new destinations added to the roster for AirTran Airways. DeVos also negotiated with other airlines to create a $45 million renovation fund in order to build a business traveler center and better food court.
DeVos succeeded in re-creating the airport and getting more business, bringing in hundreds of millions in new revenue. This is one of the reasons that he will be working with the FAA to set new plans for growth and budgets in the coming years.
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