BLOG ARCHIVE FOR: November, 2009



You may not think of wheels when you think of Amway, but they figure prominently in our story. 

Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos' first partnership was about wheels.  Jay had some, Rich didn't.  So Rich paid Jay a dime a week for a ride to school.   Later ventures also included wheels — the wheels of the plane used for their flying school, the wheels customers drove to their drive-in restaurant, and the wheel of the boat they chartered to South America.

A new Grand Rapids Public Museum exhibit shows other wheels that helped transport the company from its West Michigan roots to become the global leader in direct selling it is today.

Amway: 50 Years of Helping People Live Better Lives is open through November 2010.  The exhibit shows and tells Amway's story and how it grew, and includes artifacts like the Amway Flyer wagon sold in the 1960s, the Amway Showcase bus that brought home care solutions to people coast-to-coast, and today's Amway Global Mobile Brand Experiences. Some items have never before been on display.

Walking through the exhibit, you'll see that it's been quite a ride from an old garage to a mile-long manufacturing and office complex and from a business that started in the states and today brings opportunity to more than 80 countries and territories.

For museum hours and information, visit



50 years and 2,400 square feet later

public-museum-media-blog2When Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos started Amway 50 years ago, their offices were in an old garage in Ada, Michigan. 

It wasn’t long before they outgrew that 2,400 square foot space and began building what today is a mile-long office and manufacturing complex.

Now, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is telling the story of Amway in a space about as big as that original garage.

“Amway: 50 Years of Helping People Live Better Lives” shares Amway’s history and a glimpse at its future through words, pictures, interactive displays, and artifacts.  This is the museum’s first Amway exhibit, and includes many items that have never been on display before.

Like the Amway Flyer wagon we sold in the ’60s.  Or a recreation of the bomb shelter Amway marketed during the Cold War era.   

The exhibit will be open to the public through November 2010. 

Every square foot of it.


On the record in Ukraine

It’s a long way from Kiev to Ada, Michigan. But once Ukranian journalists got here for a press visit and the conversation about the global economy got going, distance didn’t seem to matter.

Following their August visit, Delo, a daily business newspaper, printed an interview with Doug DeVos on how distributors have – and always will – remain central to our business. Monthly magazine Tvoye Zdorovye, translated as “Your Health,” talked with Doug as part of a larger story on business ethics, noting that we were environmentally-focused before it became a “fashionable marketing term.” And finally, in an S Toboy article on American women’s beauty secrets, our Artistry and Nutrilite brands were mentioned.

We’ve got great stories to tell. Our press visits are just one way we do it.


Spreading the word

Candace Matthews became Amway’s chief marketing officer in 2008 to help spread the word about the company’s brands.

Now Candace is the one getting considerable word-of-mouth.

Since being named Black Enterprise magazine’s Corporate Executive of the Year in September, Candace has been the focus of a number of profiles.  The latest is a video feature on the Black Enterprise Business Report, a syndicated show airing on broadcast and cable stations in more than 25 markets.

If you think this buzz is impressive, just wait until you see what she’s doing with our brands.


A salute

On Veteran’s Day, we salute all who have served our country and those still serving to protect our freedom.  And we remember those gave their lives in service.

I remember my father and a missing rain jacket.

My Dad was a World War II veteran.  He enlisted with some of his high school buddies and wanted to see the world with his friends.  But when it came time to ship out, my father was pulled from his troop because his supply kit was missing a rain jacket.  He fumed and fought and insisted he would be able to serve without rain gear, but ultimately, he stayed ashore while his friends headed for Europe.  

They all died at Normandy.

Months later he was in Sydney, Australia, with other troops awaiting ships that would take them into battle.  Dad’s ship was sunk en route.   He spent another six months awaiting redeployment, growing so tired of the mess tent that he began taking breakfast at some of Sydney’s better hotels.   He eventually saw action as part of the New Guinea campaign under General Douglas MacArthur.

Today somebody’s son or daughter or mother or father are serving in the armed forces.  Tomorrow somebody’s sister or brother or husband or wife may die.  Every day someone you may know is protecting and defending the freedom we so often take for granted.

A salute, and thanks, to those who have chosen to serve.


It was 50 years ago today

On November 9, 1959, Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel launched their latest business venture here in Ada, Michigan. Before founding Amway, Jay and Rich had tried their hand at businesses ranging from a drive-in restaurant to a flying school to an import business.

But the enterprise that had legs was Amway.november-9-1959

Since Amway’s founding, we’ve grown from a small band of entrepreneurs in the states to more than three million business owners in more than 80 countries and territories. We offer health and beauty brands known and loved around the world. And while Jay and Rich started with a skeleton crew to support their new business, today we boast 13,000 employees worldwide.

There’s no big celebration planned at our world headquarters in Ada today. We’ve been celebrating all year long with our distributors all around the world.

We’re spending Amway’s 50th anniversary just as Rich and Jay spent their first day on the job 50 years ago – at work, helping distributors succeed through their Amway businesses.


Designated Twitter

It’s only natural that we have baseball on our minds this week.  

But every week, we’re thinking Twitter. We’ve seen people use it to find each other during disasters, raise millions, and spread urgent news around the globe.

We Tweet to engage with people interested in our business opportunity and product brands — our Amway Business Owners, media, customers, and sometimes, critics.

twitter_birdYou’ll find enough Amway handles on Twitter to load the bases at several ballparks, but here’s our official line-up:

Follow us. Cheer us on. And by all means, play furious-fan-who-yells-at-referee if we deserve it.

This is one game where the followers can—and should—frolic on the field.


Raising the roof

Today Orlando community leaders and Orlando Magic officials ”topped off” the Amway Center currently under construction in Orlando, Florida.

By hoisting the final  beam in place, workers placed the roof on what some are already calling the greenest arena in the country and the first NBA facility to be LEED certified when it opens in late 2010.

Today, it’s raising the roof.  Next fall the Amway Center will raise the bar as one of the nation’s premier sports and entertainment facilities and green public buildings.


By the numbers

Direct selling is a multi-billion dollar industry involving tens of millions of people worldwide.

How big and how many? Here’s a snapshot of direct selling, by the numbers:

$113 billion - global retail sales through direct sellers in U.S. dollars, according to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations.
$29.6 billion – retail sales through direct sellers last year in the U.S., the world’s biggest market for direct selling.
66 million – the number of direct selling reps worldwide – 15.1 million in the U.S. alone.
68 – direct selling companies around the world with more than $100 million in sales.
58 – the average age of the top 10 direct selling companies worldwide (none of the top 10 have been in business fewer than 25 years; Amway, the world’s second largest direct seller, turns 50 this year.)
42 – direct selling companies selling more than $100 million annually that are based in the U.S.
11 – companies that have sales of $1 billion or more.

It all adds up to a thriving global industry and opportunity for millions worldwide.