Global business leader, aviation champion to introduce panels on aerospace talent

ROCHESTER, Mich. — July 1, 2024 — The Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan (AIAM) has announced that global business leader and aviation champion Dick DeVos will kick off day one of the third annual AeroOne summit on Sept. 4 in downtown Rochester, Michigan. The former CEO of Amway and the founder of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, DeVos is also a certified jet aircraft and helicopter pilot and a former member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council. He also established the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan, a private organization funded by area companies that saw the importance of the airport to the region’s economic success.

DeVos will introduce a series of panel discussions between industry and academia focused on the critical need for aerospace talent development. The summit will continue through Sept. 6.

“Today’s students are the future of aerospace,” said DeVos. “This is a high-demand, good-paying career field that requires a robust talent pipeline. Aerospace in Michigan has enormous potential. I’m excited to be a part of AIAM’s efforts to strengthen an industry I love here in my home state.”

The AeroOne summit will feature internationally renowned companies, speakers, OEMs, suppliers, and thought leaders engaging in keynotes, panel discussions, and small group roundtables with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. The focus of the summit is to foster essential relationships for building a strong aerospace industry. Due to limited attendance capacity, early registration at is highly recommended.

“Dick DeVos has shown unwavering passion for both aviation and education,” said AIAM President Tony Vernaci. “He has a deep understanding of the aerospace industry as a whole and is passionate about developing our future leaders. We’re thrilled to welcome him to AeroOne.”

DeVos’s work in the aviation sector has had an impact nationally and statewide. His efforts on behalf of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids have resulted in more affordable airfare, more flight providers, and the airport’s elevation as a regional hub for air travel that contributes more than $3 billion annually in economic activity in the West Michigan region. During his three-year term with the FAA he advised senior management on policy, spending, long-range planning, and regulatory matters.

The West Michigan Aviation Academy, a tuition-free public charter high school which DeVos founded in 2010, prepares more than 600 students each year for high-growth employment fields and provides them an opportunity to earn their pilot license while enrolled in high school. The students also receive mentoring from local industry experts from companies like Delta Air Lines and Gulfstream, who teach them about piloting, designing, and problem-solving within the aviation industry.

The AeroOne talent panel discussions are an extension of the work of the Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan’s charitable foundation founded in January 2023. The AIAM Foundation is a response to unprecedented aerospace industry growth, which is expected to continue for decades to come. This growth has brought a significant need for more suppliers and talent to meet the increasing demands. The goal of the AIAM Foundation is to help bolster the aerospace industry — and with it, the state’s entire economy — by strengthening Michigan’s people, companies, and communities.

To register for AeroOne or secure your showcase table, visit Attendees can book hotel rooms at Royal Park Hotel for September 4 and 5 at a deeply discounted promotional rate.