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Forging Into International Markets, Amway Hits Record Sales

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Amway executives  Steve Van Andel (left) and Doug Devos at Amway headquarters. The west Michigan company announced record sales Tuesday for a seventh consecutive year.
Photo credit: CBS 62 Paul Pytlowany

Amway executives Steve Van Andel (left) and Doug Devos at Amway headquarters. The west Michigan company announced record sales Tuesday for a seventh consecutive year.
Photo credit: CBS 62 Paul Pytlowany

(credit: WWJ-TV) Carol Cain
An Emmy Award winning journalist, Carol Cain is also the se...
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By Carol Cain
CBS Detroit

What do you do when your products are already sold in most of the world’s markets and you’re looking to expand?

You forge ahead with creative ways of selling products which is what Amway is doing and reaping big time results.

The west Michigan firm reported 2013 sales of $11.8 billion on Tuesday, which was up from $11.3 billion the previous year. It was the seventh consecutive year of sales increases. Learn more about Amway HERE from a recent episode of “Michigan Matters.”

One of the state’s largest firms, the privately held company, owned by the Van Andel and DeVos families, has a workforce of 21,000 globally.

“We’re happy with it,” Steve Van Andel, chairman of Amway, said its fiscal report. “The reason is because of our distributors. Our goal is to help them  reach their goal.”

He added the distributors were the “engine” of their business.

“There was a time we used to focus on launching in three or four new markets each year,” said Doug DeVos, president of Amway. “Now, we are looking at how to do things differently.”

In the USA, that strategy included adding a business center at the Citi Field baseball stadium in New York last year where distributors gather and do business.

The company is looking at adding other centers in other locations that make sense, DeVos added.

In Thailand, Amway has a deal with a company where Amway products are ordered through distributors and then picked up at  7-11 stores.

“We also have a business center in Berlin (Germany) which  had to be near a train station,” DeVos added. “It’s all about supporting our distributors.”

China, with 1.3 billion people and the  most populous nation on the planet, is also Amway’s largest market.

Nutritional products remains the top seller for Amway with Nutrilite brands leading the way.

The company also sells beauty products including Artistry.

And in the home products category, eSpring Water Purifiers sales have been strong fueled by the momentum of the product’s introduction in China in 2012.

The North American market where the company began over 50 years ago by two entrepreneurs — Rich DeVos and the late Jay Van Andel —  represents about 10 percent of its business.

Rich DeVos remains on Amway’s board. Doug DeVos is his youngest son, and Steve Van Andel is the oldest son of Jay Van Andel.

Michigan is still where the heartbeat of the firm can be found as its headquarters is nestled in quiet Ada with over 4,000 employees.

“From a business standpoint, Michigan is a great place to be,” said Van Andel. “We’re very happy with how things in the state are going.”

(Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer/Host of “Michigan Matters” which airs 11:30 am Sunday on CBS 62. She also writes of business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at clcain@cbs.com)

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