The prospect is alarming enough that Charles Paul Conn, in Promises to Keep, works hard to prove it’ll never happen. “The reality,” he tells us, “is entirely different from what might be predicted by a statistician with a slide rule.” He points to the millions of likely untapped prospects—youths, retirees, downsized professionals, foreigners—although he fails to acknowledge that recruiting them would only make the Business hungrier. More plausibly, he adds that Amway is a small part of the population and will stay that way. The Business’s high dropout rate, he explains, though “often cited as a negative factor, actually serves to keep the pool of potential distributors large.” In other words, Amway’s salvation is its high rate of failure.
‘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.’
Clockwise, from upper left: Amway cofounders Jay Van Andel (left) and Richard DeVos (center) meet in the Oval Office with President Gerald Ford, who is holding a copy of Richard’s book, “Believe!”; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Richard DeVos during a 2009 event at the Scripps Research Institute; an aerial shot of Dick & Betsy DeVos’s primary residence in Ada, Michigan; Dick & Betsy enjoy their courtside seats at an Orlando Magic game—an NBA team owned by the DeVos family. | National Archives; AP; Getty Images
DeVos quickly realized that the situation was unsustainable. So she hatched a plan designed to surprise Engler just as his opposition had surprised her: She would resign as state GOP chair without notifying him in advance. She chose a date in February 2000 when she knew Engler would be in Washington. Around 9 a.m., she left a message on his phone, informing him that she would announce her resignation at an early-afternoon news conference. Engler quickly changed his itinerary and booked a flight home for his own news conference that evening. Publicly, Engler saved face, but the message from the DeVoses was unmistakable: We are a political force with our own agenda, like it or not.
This Lady is terribly misinformed… As a Amway IBO we give you plenty of chance to say no and ways out of this. People will always bad mouth things that they don’t understand you know why because its easier tosay something negative than to take the time out of your day to find out what your really talking about and here is just some food for thought. I started this business a few years back and just listened and did what they asked me too. Because of it i was Able to bring my wife home. Successful people will away do what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.
These functions, all of which were sponsored by World Wide Dreambuilders, were rhetoric-fests where Amway’s self-help message was pushed to its logical addiction-recovery extreme—although with the roles curiously reversed. “J-O-B people,” meaning those who were not Amway-style entrepreneurs, were portrayed as the helpless addicts, hooked on the “immediate gratification” of a weekly paycheck. It was they who were in denial, telling themselves that they didn’t have a problem, that they were happy working all day for practically nothing. In contrast, the “delayed life” was a healthy process of withdrawal, of gradually replacing the “negatives” in your life (including non-Amway products) with “positives.” Most importantly, you learned to “dream” again, reconnecting with the inner child who, before the 9-to-5 beat it down, had fantasized about big houses and fast cars.
In 1982, Amway co-founders, Richard M. DeVos and Jay Van Andel, along with Amway's executive vice president for corporate services, William J. Mr. Discher Jr., were indicted in Canada on several criminal charges, including allegations that they underreported the value of goods brought into the country and had defrauded the Canadian government of more than $28 million from 1965 to 1980. The charges were dropped in 1983 after Amway and its Canadian subsidiary pleaded guilty to criminal customs fraud charges. The companies paid a fine of $25 million CAD, the largest fine ever imposed in Canada at the time. In 1989 the company settled the outstanding customs duties for $45 million CAD. In a 1994 article authored by DeVos, he stated that the guilty plea was entered for technical reasons, despite believing they were innocent of the charges, and that he believed that the case had been motivated by "political reasons".
‘No,’ says Dale. ‘I’ve only been playing seriously for six or seven years, and I don’t have much time, working in hospitality. But I love playing at Bayou Club. You join a private club hoping that during season when every other golf course is swamped – I mean, we own a public course nearby, and they’re running on six-minute tee times. They’re herded through there like cattle. It’s tough during season, and it’s not enjoyable golf. Because if you’re playing golf, especially if you’re kind of a quick player, when you run into someone else and then you have to stop and you have to wait for those people to play ahead of you, to get out of the way, it interrupts your rhythm playing the game.’
In July 1996, Amway co-founder Richard DeVos was honored at a $3 million fundraiser for the Republican Party, and a week later, it was reported that Amway had tried to donate $1.3 million to pay for Republican "infomercials" and televising of the GOP convention on Pat Robertson's Family Channel, but backed off when Democrats criticized the donation as a ploy to avoid campaign-finance restrictions.
My husband and I tried Amway, and here's the story: My husband's BEST friend and his wife started asking us to hang out a lot, which was cool because we enjoyed their company. I thought she was my best friend at the time, stupidly enough. It didn't take long for them to tell us about this "amazing" opportunity. We thought we would give it a try since we sincerely trusted our friends. We would go to their house for a "meeting" in their basement with a bunch of strangers and two guys in suits. The guys would talk about how nice it is to work from home, make tons of money and generally just talk about nothing to do with the actual business. After every meeting I would think, okay but what is the business all about!?!?!? So eventually they set us up as "business owners" and we purchased a ton of crap from Amway totaling over $1,000 because, "that is what you do." Eventually, we decided that we would not continue with the business. There was nothing wrong with it, but we knew it wasn't for us. We didn't want to approach complete strangers in coffee shops and present them with an "opportunity"; we didn't want to stay home on the weekends to attend meetings instead of spending them at the lake; we didn't want to choose Amway partners over friends and family like you are taught (yes, there is a "tier"); we didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on products and guilt-trip our friends and family if they didn't want to buy our products (yes, this was also taught). All in all there was nothing very wrong with it, it's not a scam, but it's definitely NOT for everyone. I am writing this not to bash anyone but to give anyone an insight if they are wanting to be part of Amway. Oh, and as for the "friends"... they now completely ignore us. And I mean, I'll see them in public and they'll turn away from me when I wave; they will talk to anyone BUT us. And this was my husband's long-time highschool friend; they were even in eachother's WEDDINGS. So to be quite frank I will talk everyone out of doing Amway and it's their fault. If that is how they will treat others for simply not continuing with the business then I will tell NO ONE to join.
Today, the DeVoses’ charitable giving and local boosterism mean that people in West Michigan have a different view of them than Michiganders elsewhere in the state. “The political narrative that has grown around [the family] is unfair,” says Whitney, whose Hauenstein Center has received grant funding from the DeVos Family Foundation. “They have made life better for a lot of people, and I can’t say that loudly enough.”
Of the Amway distributors who testified in the case, Rich says, ‘I have nothing against someone who tries Amway and concludes the business is not for them. But I wish they would take responsibility for their own actions instead of trying to blame the business.’ Likewise naysayers and disgruntled former Amway distributors simply do not understand how business works and are at fault for their own failures because they lack faith in their ability to succeed, and thus the necessary determination.