Van Andel said he finds that sense of adventure when the company moves into a new market.During his tenure, Amway has entered dozens of countries, adapting its model to local laws, customs andcustomer demands."Every time you go out and start a new market, it's like starting back here -- maybe it's different becauseyou've got an ongoing business, but you take the same risks," Van Andel said.The privately held business has made the families of both men among the wealthiest in the world.It also has made them into some of the region's largest benefactors. The families have given hundreds of millions of dollars to charities, building projects and other community endeavors:Van Andel Arena,Van
Andel Research Institute,DeVos Placeconvention center,DeVos Performance HallandDeVos
Children's Hospitalare among the best known.That commitment to community is a legacy both men say will continue."As kids, all we had to do to see the business was go into the basement," Van Andel said during aninterview at Amway's sprawling Ada Township headquarters."I remember walking down in the basement, and the biggest part of the whole day was going down to seemy dad's assistant and she would make me a paper airplane, and I thought that was great."Today, Van Andel, who has been Amway chairman since 1995, and DeVos, who has been presidentsince 2002, ride Amway's private jets around the world and lead a global work force of 14,000.They are more likely to meet with distributors at arenas in India than Indiana. More than 80 percent of Amway's $8.2 billion in sales in 2008 came from overseas markets.The company's most recent launches were in Vietnam, Russia and Ukraine.People in developing nations, particularly China and India, have embraced Amway's direct-sales conceptas a means of building wealth where such an approach had never been an option."To me, regardless of personality, that is just a totally different dynamic to operating the business than itwas early on," Van Andel said.Both men said they try to respect the company's history while not dwelling on it.
A sense of adventure
On his desk Van Andel keeps the bell from "Elizabeth," the schooner his father and Rich DeVos saileduntil it sank off the coast of Cuba. It remind him of the sense of adventure that led to Amway's creation.The company also needs to be careful not to let its size get in the way of competing with smaller, morenimble, competitors, they say."We have to remember that today a lot of people are in their basement. They started up their Amway business right now," DeVos said.
20/05/2009Amway's second generation of chief …blog.mlive.com/grpress/…/print.html2/3