For a year now, Dick Devos has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration. He joined the Management Advisory Council in 2017. It posted a number of questions from those who didn’t realize that Devos had experience in aviation, as well as the notion that both Devos’ were working in Washington.
Devos has always had a passion for aviation. As a pilot, he has a license for a variety of aircraft, including his own jet and helicopter. However, that’s not what influenced the decision to bring him onboard the Management Advisory Council. This decision came down after the substantial and amazing growth experienced by the international airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Grand Rapids is Devos’ hometown and a place where he has been considerable time working with business leaders, community organizations, and education administrations. He even ran for governor of Michigan in 2006. While he did not win the governorship, he still put all of his time into helping the city of Grand Rapids become a rapidly growing city. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing cities in America.
While many of the business leaders were focused just on building downtown, Devos saw that a major area for improvement was the airport. At the time, it was still quite a small facility that served mostly as away to store jets and take expensive flights to major cities like New York. However, Devos wanted to make the airport into a business traveler’s dream. He began working with the CEO just after 1999 and started off the relationship by calling the CEO of AirTran Airways.
The CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport praised the appointment of Devos, noting that he had been one of the significant reasons why the airport experienced so much growth throughout the 2000s. In fact, the airport just finished a $45 million renovation project. The new expansion led to upgrades for the food court area and technology, but it was also the start of a technology boom for the airport as it opened a special business traveler’s center.
Devos knew that business travelers spent the most money and were taking advantage of flights that were able to get them to the destinations they were off to next. Denver, St. Louis, Orlando, and Vegas were the chosen new flights by AirTran that led to the airport’s success. This was part of Devos’ plan to build up the airport into the largest international airport in Michigan.
It was this experience that drove the decision to appoint Devos to the council. The appointment was also praised by the CEO of Southwest, who had personally worked with Devos as part of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s expansion. In fact, there was a point in time which Southwest had taken over AirTran and considered closing down terminals at the Grand Rapids location. Devos had persuaded the CEO not to do that in order to support the obvious growth.
Now the council meets every quarter to discuss updates and changes. Devos continues to be the founder and CEO of The Windquest Group as well as the co-founder of the West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids.
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