Amway is haunted by the specter of saturation, the success that spells disaster. The 6-4-2 scenario tells it all: To keep one promise of $2,000-a-month, seventy-eight more need to be made whose fulfillment is still pending. The problem is that growth doesn’t improve this ratio: Were Amway to conquer the known universe, fewer than 2 percent of its distributors would be (or mathematically could be) Directs or higher. Of the rest, about 90 percent would be actively losing money—and without a pool of prospects to give them hopes for the future, they would surely quit. Amway would collapse from the bottom up.
Amway combines direct selling with a multi-level marketing strategy. Amway distributors, referred to as "independent business owners" (IBOs), may market products directly to potential customers and may also sponsor and mentor other people to become IBOs. IBOs may earn income both from the retail markup on any products they sell personally, plus a performance bonus based on the sales volume they and their downline (IBOs they have sponsored) have generated. People may also register as IBOs to buy products at discounted prices. Harvard Business School, which described Amway as "one of the most profitable direct selling companies in the world", noted that Amway founders Van Andel and DeVos "accomplished their success through the use of an elaborate pyramid-like distribution system in which independent distributors of Amway products received a percentage of the merchandise they sold and also a percentage of the merchandise sold by recruited distributors".
‘You can see we’re getting the screens fixed,’ the Realtor says, pointing to the men working beyond the glass. She has piercing blue eyes. Processed blonde hair. She has French-tipped nails, diamond rings on all fingers, and a gold-and-diamond necklace. She wears a white semi sheer shirt, black-and-white-printed leisure pants, black eyeliner and heavy mascara. ‘We’re just putting some finishing touches on the place.’
On its face, the debate over right-to-work is about an arcane bit of labor law—whether workers under a contract that was collectively negotiated by a union should have to pay dues to that union, regardless of whether they’re members. But that debate is a proxy for a larger battle that is less about employment law than political jockeying: Unions tends to align with Democrats, and as a result, if it becomes more difficult for unions to collect dues, they’ll be weakened and less able to advocate for the political causes of their choosing.
Fittingly, my encounter with Amway began during a long-term temp assignment at Andersen Consulting’s ENTERPRISE 2020 project, an ongoing exhibit to which consultants would bring potential clients to scare them about the future. The main attraction was a battery of “industry experts” who produced customized nightmare scenarios to help manufacturing executives from across the globe see the Third Wave coming at them. The experts would discourse gravely about globalization, accelerating technology, managed chaos, self-organizing supply chains, flex-this, flex-that, and nano-everything, eventually arriving at the message of this elaborate sideshow: The future is not to be faced without an Andersen consultant on retainer.
No one likes doing that. The major problem is that you trying to talk with people who have no interest in what you are offering. You need to learn how to implement an attraction marketing system to ATTRACT the right buyers and business opportunity seekers. These are people that are already currently looking for what you have to offer. So they are more targeted and more likely to join your team or buy products from you.
Barring a surprise at confirmation hearings, the DeVos family will soon have a seat in Washington. But a question lingers: Will they continue as activists? While there’s a long history of Cabinet members donating to campaigns prior to assuming their roles atop the government, it would be fairly unprecedented for a Cabinet secretary to push policy within the government while her family simultaneously funnels millions to lobby and campaign for those same policies. But the DeVos family isn’t shy about using its clout.
I loved the days when we’d go to the Bayou Club as a family. We began going immediately after joining Amway, when I was in second grade. The development was new, still under construction. There was space between the houses and the far stretch of the golf course undulating luxuriously around them. Model homes rose from the landscape like castles, bigger than any houses I’d ever seen – and vacant. Never occupied. Empty dreams, waiting to be filled.