By Carol Cain
If there’s one thing that resonates with Amway scions Steve Van Andel and Doug DeVos – both competitive sportsmen – it’s performance.
The two executives – who run Amway with Van Andel serving as chairman and DeVos as president of one of the largest privately held firms in the nation from their Ada, Mich. headquarters — have billions of reasons to celebrate and hand out some high fives.
That’s because on Thursday they announced global sales for Alticor, parent company of Amway, topped $11.3 billion in 2012, up from $10.9 billion in 2011. It was the seventh year of growth as sales increased in all Top 10 markets including: China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine and the United States.
Making the report more impressive was the economic meltdown that gripped the world in 2008 and left many firms in tatters.
Amway – which started as “American Way” – defied the odds and grown each year. The company is owned by the two families — among the wealthiest in Michigan.
“We’re excited to announce another record year of sales performance at Amway,” said Van Andel.“We’ve nearly doubled in size since we launched the company’s Growth Through Innovation business strategy six years ago.”
Added DeVos, “For more than 50 years, Amway has provided people with an opportunity to have a business of their own, backed by strong brands, innovative products and localized sales and business skills training programs..We will continue to find new and better ways to support millions of the world’s entrepreneurs as they achieve their goals.”
Today, over 90 percent of Amway’s business comes from outside North America.
Amway has 21,000 employees globally with 4,000 in West Michigan.
Van Andel, 57 year old eldest son of the late Jay Van Andel who launched the company along with pal Rich DeVos 50-plus years ago, is a skier and polo player who has been ranked as an amateur at one time.
DeVos, 48 year old youngest son of Rich, was a quarterback at Purdue, and is a sailor who competes in major races.
Both men inherited their competitive spirit and sense of adventure from their dads. Jay Van Andel passed away in 2004 while Rich DeVos, 86, is on Amway’s board.
The elder DeVos, who celebrated 60 years of marriage to Helen on Thursday, also owns the Orlando Magic with his family.
“My Dad and Rich started as entrepreneurs. I look at them as adventurers. One of the things Doug and I have tried to do is continue that spirit,” Van Andel told me in an earlier interview.
The company’s journey has been of epic proportions. It began in the basements of Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel selling health supplements.
The impressive growth has occurred as Amway’s footprint across the globe has expanded.
On Thursday, Amway announced plans to invest more than $335 million in manufacturing and R&D expansion in 2013 including four facilities in the U.S., a new manufacturing facility in India and second sites in both China and Vietnam.
In Michigan, those investments included:
- A new $81 million nutrition soft gels and tablet manufacturing operation in Ada which is expected to create up to 200 jobs over a three-year period. Construction starts in 2013.
- A $24 million nutrition powder products plant unveiled in 2012 at the company’s Ada headquarters which will create 50 jobs.
Amway has over three million distributors in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide.
Top-selling brands are NUTRILITE vitamin, mineral and dietary supplements, ARTISTRY skincare and cosmetics, and eSpring water treatment systems.
Beauty category products generated about 26 percent of company sales supported by the star power of Teresa Palmer, an actress who has a three year deal with the company and is the “global face” of ARTISTRY.
China remain the top market for Amway where the company introduced the eSpring water treatment system in 2012 – which was the largest product launch for the company.
Projected first year sales of eSpring in China are projected at $500 million.
With so much success, is there anything that worries the two executives?
“The greatest risk to our future is our past success,” said DeVos. “You might be tempted to lean back and go on auto pilot. We need to focus on making sure the next year and year after that are even better.”
(Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer and Host of “Michigan Matters” airing 11:30 am Sundays on CBS 62. She writes about politics and business in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at email@example.com.)