Early in our conversation, I had mentioned that it was unusual for the chief supply chain officer to also be in charge of R&D. Dr. Calvert addressed this near the end of our interview, “I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have procurement, manufacturing, the trade group, and R&D in different silos when it comes to developing and sourcing goods. The group I work with dictates everything about the product, how it is built, sourced, and where it is built.”
In 2004, Dateline NBC featured a critical report based on a yearlong undercover investigation of business practices of Quixtar. The report noted that the average distributor makes only about $1,400 per year and that many of the "high level distributors singing the praises of Quixtar" are actually "making most of their money by selling motivational books, tapes and seminars; not Quixtar's cosmetics, soaps, and electronics".
Texas A&M 167; Cincinnati 116; South Florida 87; Michigan State 48; Wisconsin 41; NC State 40; Northwestern 40; Miami 38; Georgia Southern 32; Oklahoma State 31; UAB 24; Stanford 21; Auburn 21; Oregon 20; San Diego State 16; Buffalo 14; Army 13; South Carolina 11; Iowa State 6; Florida International 6; Virginia Tech 5; Pittsburgh 3; Duke 3; Boise State 2.
The elevated I-4 freeway bordering the east side of the site posed a distinct challenge, threatening to disconnect the arena both physically and psychologically from the downtown core. In response, the corner of the arena is anchored by a diaphanous feature tower bathed in color changing LED lighting that reveals the color and pageantry of sporting and entertainment activities within while marking the facility within the flat topography of downtown Orlando. This tower is both architectural and occupied – housing the Orlando Magic Team Store, hospitality space, Gentleman Jack Terrace and rooftop Sky Bar. The latter two are exterior spaces that take full advantage of the warm Orlando climate, commanding views to the plaza below and the greater community beyond. Further city connection is achieved via a 40’ × 60’ LED video feature that addresses downtown from an elevated façade position above the highway.
The family is also heavily invested in right-wing politics, earning comparisons to the Kochs for the enthusiasm with which they back Republican candidates like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio, and their sizable donations to ultraconservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, both of which promote Christian value-based public policy such as anti-abortion legislation and bans on same-sex marriage. In 2014, the DeVoses donated in the six figures to Michigan-based conservative think tanks including the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which promotes free market economics within a Christian framework, and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, also a supporter of free market economics. Elsewhere, conservative organizations that received DeVos funding of over a million dollars each include the American Enterprise Institute, another free market think tank; the Alliance Defending Freedom, the right’s preeminent legal defense fund; and the Heritage Foundation, which promotes free market economics and ‘traditional American values.’
I did pick-ups for several depressing weeks. Apart from Sherri, I never saw any sign of another customer. It was like one of those dusty, deathly-still mom-and-pops frequented only by regulars who come mainly to chat—and I was oppressed with a similar sense that the proprietors needed my money more than I needed their merchandise. It was actually a relief when, one week, Josh and Jean left town without warning me.
While noting that the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability, Amway acknowledged that it had made changes to its business operations as a result of the lawsuit. The settlement is subject to approval by the court, which was expected in early 2011. The economic value of the settlement, including the changes Amway made to its business model, totals $100 million.
In 2014, Founders Crown Ambassadors Barry Chi and Holly Chen, who run the biggest Amway distributorship in the world based in Taiwan, were sued by nine Chinese immigrants in the Southern California region who claimed that, although Chi and Chen promised they could potentially make millions in commissions, Amway business owners make closer to $200 a month.
And then of course one question always comes up: ‘Should I even have this much wealth in the first place?’ I feel the Lord allocated some money for us to use for our pleasure, some for our ability to experience His world, some for investing to help create economic expansion and job opportunities for others – and of course, some for sharing with those who have a real need.
‘The gym used to be the men’s smoking lounge,’ Dale says to us. ‘This is a pretty young club, but already we’ve seen a lot of changes. It’s not all about the men saying, ‘I want to join a golf club.’ Now, with women having a much larger role in the family, they want to know, ‘Well, what’s in it for me?’ There’s got to be a fitness center, there’s got to be some activities for ladies and kids, and it has to be more of a family culture. A lot of traditional men’s golf clubs have had to really evolve into family clubs.’
But there is one thing that we need to understand here. Like in an MLM scheme which is a Ponzi scheme, the business that an Amway distributor does, depends on finding new distributors and then hoping that these new distributors sell Amway products and at the same time are able to appoint newer distributors. If a distributor is successful at this he makes more and more money. The trouble is that we go along it becomes more difficult to appoint new distributors. Lets try and understand this through an example. Lets say the first distributor that a genuine MLM company appoints, in turn appoints five distributors.
And these inconveniences pale beside the emotional shock of entering Josh and Jean’s apartment. Not big to begin with, its thorough occupation by Amway Corporation made it positively claustrophobic. The living room was dominated by huge metal cabinets displaying Amway cleaning and food products; shelves along the wall were devoted to toiletries; boxes of cereal lined the top of the couch. Next to the window was an eraser board listing upcoming World Wide Dreambuilders meetings; free wall space and the outside of cabinets were decorated with motivational slogans (“I AM A WINNER!”) drawn in crayon.
From time to time the absurdities and contradictions of The Business would surface in Josh’s conversation. In one of his many unguarded moments, he voiced a preference for Amway Scrub Rite because it ran out more quickly than the “superconcentrated” Amway cleaners, enabling him to buy it more often. Catching himself, he quickly added, “Of course, it still lasts a long time.” This puzzled me. Why was Josh so eager to shovel money at Amway? The rational thing would be to minimize his own purchases while strong-arming his downlines into buying as much as possible. But, of course, if everyone did that, the whole business would evaporate. This is Amway’s central dilemma.
The house is outfitted with an elaborate security system. A small room on the second floor holds the bank of monitors. There are cameras on every corner of the house, and at every outside door, and several around the pool. Three rapid beeps signal a door’s opening. Even though Feather Sound is a very safe neighborhood, Renata says, and she never heard of any home invasions while she was growing up here, people are very particular.
The forecast looked pretty grim, and I wasn’t the only one who thought so. My supervisor, Sherri, also seemed to have succumbed to E2020’s mood of millennial angst. As events coordinator for E2020, responsible for making each client’s time in Chicago—from the catered lunch to the after-hours excursion—exceed their expectations,” Sherri’s job was already very twenty-first century in its focus on pampering those with means. She was perfect for the role, a seamless blend of prim professional and girlish emotion-worker. Tall, blond, and angular, she had deep-set Nordic eyes that gave her an air of maturity—unless she was excited, when they would widen improbably, revealing the spirit of a child lost in wonder. One minute she was commanding a team of caterers, the next she was dissolving into giggles, waving her arms and squealing with excitement. On top of her sixty-plus hours a week at E2020, she was improving herself with MBA classes at night; she, too, was seeking some way off the wobbly treadmill of income-from-wages-salaries-and-tips. When Amway called, touting a future that combined business ownership with 100 Percent Empowered Consumerism, she was ready.
Totaling 875,000 square feet, the Amway Center replaces the previously existing Amway Arena, updating the venue in favor of a sustainable and environmentally conscious design. The new building comes with updated technology, more amenities, and bigger seats. There's even a hypnotizing graphics wall along one side of the building that brings the arena's modern elements together in a magical display.
Several sources have commented on the promotion of Christian conservative ideology within the Amway organization. Mother Jones magazine described the Amway distributor force as "heavily influenced by the company's dual themes of Christian morality and free enterprise" and operating "like a private political army". In The Cult of Free Enterprise, Stephen Butterfield, who spent time in the Yager group within Amway, wrote "[Amway] sells a marketing and motivational system, a cause, a way of life, in a fervid emotional atmosphere of rallies and political religious revivalism." Philadelphia City Paper correspondent Maryam Henein stated that "The language used in motivational tools for Amway frequently echoes or directly quotes the Bible, with the unstated assumption of a shared Christian perspective."
Today, the FTC announced a settlement with Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM), a company that operated an illegal pyramid scheme disguised as a multilevel marketing program. Over 350,000 people were scammed out of a total of at least $169 million. The settlement bans FHTM from the multilevel marketing business and from deceiving consumers. FHTM will fork over at least $7.7 million, which will be returned to consumers.
Her alienation didn’t stop with non-Amwayers. She was also bitterly resentful of “crosslines,” her Amway cousins who belonged to other downlines. As fellow unrecovered wage junkies, they were a potential reservoir of misinformation, discontent, and backsliding. Josh cautioned her against fraternizing: Polite small talk was O.K., but you shouldn’t, say, go to a movie with them (Amway lore is full of disaster stories about crosslines who carpool). But Sherri’s animus went further. Crosslines were her competition, soaking up prospects and “saturating” Chicago before she had a chance. She was incensed when they hogged seats at meetings, hysterical when they went Direct.