Birth of a salesman

Rich DeVos’ career as a salesman started with an onion.

Rich’s grandfather was a huckster, a Dutch term for someone who sold produce off a truck or wagon.

Onions left over from his grandfather’s route offered the opportunity for Rich’s first sale.

“I earned just a few pennies, but that memorable achievement was a definitive moment in who I became as a man,” he writes in his new book, Simply Rich.

“It was just the beginning.  After that, whenever my grandfather had leftover vegetables, I sold them.  It took salesmanship and persistence, but I loved it.”

Hear Rich recount that first sale, and his advice for others pursuing a selling life, in the video below.

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Silver Irises

The traditional gifts that spouses give each other to celebrate a 25th anniversary in the United States include iris flowers and silver jewelry. This month, we are quietly honoring that same milestone for the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which was signed into law in October of 1988.

This landmark legislation allowed women to receive business loans without the co-signature of a male relative; created the National Women’s Business Council; and helped fund Women’s Business Centers -  similar to this one in our backyard – all over the country.

As of 2012, the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report estimated that there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing 7.7 million people.

At Amway, women business owners make up anywhere from 52 to 70% of our distributor force, depending on the country. And around the world, we’re partnering with other companies; policy influencers; social agencies; and media outlets to keep women’s economic empowerment a priority.

A major milestone was hit 25 years ago - one that brought gifts too numerous to fit into a headline. That said, our work in this area is just beginning, and will never be just a part of history.


Purpose, passion, potential

“Amway was founded on the belief that, by helping people improve their lives, they could make the world a better place.”

So begins the message from our Chairman Steve Van Andel and our President Doug DeVos in the Amway 2012 Global Corporate Social Responsibility Report released today.

The annual report highlights the many ways our company, its more than 21,000 employees and more than 3 million distributors make a difference in the lives of others.

That includes building homes in Latin America, providing water filters in Haiti, building libraries in China and adopting schools right here in the hometown of our World Headquarters.

Corporate Social Responsibility is built into everything we do: our people, our products and our performance.

 Steve and Doug credit their fathers for recognizing the potential in this business for making a difference.

“They made it their mission to be more, do more, give more. And more than a half-century later, we’re still emulating their powerful example. … We’re awed by how far we’ve come and inspired to keep becoming more, together.”

Read the full report here.


Try, try again

We’ve never personally met startup evangelist and lawyer Anna Vital, but she does something we love. She creates – or sometimes, just shares - amazing infographics to help bloggers, journalists, deep thinkers, the bold, the brave and other influencers to understand the journey to becoming an entrepreneur.

Vital has worked on pieces such as ”How to Never Give Up;” “Finding Your Window of Opportunity;” and “Everyone will become an Entrepreneur.” Recently, we connected emotionally with “How Many Times Should You Try?” (Click on the image below to see the original.)

Infographic by Anna Vital, Funders and Founders


Although infographics weren’t so popular when Amway Co-Founders Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos started their first business in the mid-1940s, we know they would appreciate this one.  They tried their hands at business at least seven times prior to distributing Nutrilite, the precursor to today’s Amway.

Their first venture together was a flight school called Wolverine Air Service. The second was a hamburger joint called Riverside Drive-Inn. They also started businesses renting canoes, chartering fishing trips, importing Haitian home accessories and selling wooden rocking horses and organic baked goods.

We’re glad they kept going. And in their honor, we’re always here for the millions of Amway distributors trying to build their businesses every day, too.  How many times will you try?


Connecting with Community

Amway now operates in more than 100 countries and territories. Wherever we go, we try to connect with the community, and our hometown is no different.

We are pleased to partner with Grand Rapids NBC affiliate WOOD TV to share our stories of connecting to the West Michigan community. As Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel and President Doug DeVos explain in these videos, connecting with community has always been a part of the Amway culture.


A look into the past

We are kicking off the new year with a look at our past. Meet Pam Berrington. Pam is in charge of preserving our past in the Amway Archives.

When we celebrated our 50th anniversary, we published a full-color book documenting the journey of our founders’ initial ventures to the multi-billion dollar operation we are today. We also provided material for an exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum documenting that same journey.

Thanks to Pam and her team at the Amway Archives, we didn’t have to look too hard for materials. She maintains a treasure trove of information carefully stored in acid-free boxes.

“We identify each and every piece that gets put in a box, and they are all individually numbered and keyed into our museum software so that we can track what we have and be able to pull them for marketing, PR or whoever may need them,” Pam said.

Hundreds of thousands of items are already there and new ones arrive each day: photos, videos of speeches, oral histories with top executives or retiring employees, old L.O.C. containers, vintage vinyl albums of Amway songs or fun novelty items.

The list is endless. Check out our Facebook page for the latest discovery from the Amway Archives and watch for more throughout the year.


Flowers of flame

To Vivian Yuan and Christy Xin, fireworks are flowers of flame floating in the night sky.

Vivian and Christy, who are on assignment from China at Amway World Headquarters, agreed to share that poetic perspective as a preview to the Amway-sponsored 4th of July Family Fireworks celebration Wednesday in Grand Rapids.

Their observations?

Meaning: In Chinese, “fireworks” translates to flowers of flame. In English, it is art works of fire.

History: Fireworks are a blend of ancient science, modern technology, infinite imagination and beautiful wishes. They originated in China over a thousand years ago, and were introduced to the Western world in the 19th century.

Moments: Fireworks are associated with breath-taking moments all over the world. Examples include the July 4th fireworks in the U.S., the fireworks of the walking gigantic footprints at the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and fireworks over Sydney Harbour in Australia on New Year’s Eve.

Wherever these events take place, these “blooming flowers” in the sky create happiness reflected through the smiles on our faces, say Vivian and Christy.

We look forward to sharing that happiness with our friends and neighbors in West Michigan this week.


Industry accolades

Amway President Doug DeVos and former Amway President Dick DeVos will receive our industry’s highest honor when they are inducted into the Direct Selling Association (DSA) Hall of Fame in June.

The induction during the DSA Annual Meeting will recognize the far-reaching impact these second-generation Amway leaders have had on direct selling.

Both have served as chairman of the DSA board of directors. Dick has been chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) and Doug was previously chair of the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), earning that organization’s Circle of Honor Award in 2009. Doug is currently treasurer of WFDSA.

 “The leadership and vision Dick and Doug DeVos have provided to the Direct Selling Association over many years made their induction into the DSA Hall of Fame an obvious choice. The tireless efforts of both of these extraordinary men to serve the interests of not only Amway, but the entire direct selling community, has been a source of inspiration,” said DSA President Joseph Mariano in a news release announcing the honor.

Amway Co-Founders Rich DeVos and the late Jay Van Andel were inducted into the DSA Hall of Fame in 1979 and 1987, respectively.


Your Nutrilite Radio Theatre

If you look at the Nutrilite timeline in the appendix of Dr. Sam Rehnborg’s book, The Nutrilite Story, you’ll see that the fifties was a busy time for Nutrilite. Farming operations were expanding, a state-of-the-art research lab and quality control lab were built, and the first iteration of the butterfly shaped green plastic container to hold DoubleX was designed and created.

The marketing department was hard at work in the fifties, too. “Your Nutrilite Radio Theatre” debuted on the NBC Radio Network for the 1955-56 season. Every Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m., Pat O’Brien and Jimmy Wallington hosted the show that was a “brilliant series of original plays featuring Hollywood’s Top Stars.” There were 26 episodes that played on 172 stations across the country.

The marketers didn’t stop there, though. They ingeniously teamed with Hollywood scriptwriters and created the “Nutrilite Radio Theatre Contest” and accepted story ideas submitted from people all across the country. The winning entries were adapted and dramatized on the air throughout the season. 26 winners were flown to Hollywood for the “trip of a lifetime” and given the opportunity to appear on the radio program broadcasting their winning entry.

Imagine being in that radio studio in 1956 watching actors producing your story and broadcasting it across the country. That is truly ”Your Nutrilite Radio Theatre.”