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Tag Archives: Jay Van Andel

Jay Van Andel is one of the commemorated icons in Grand Rapids with his name appearing in various landmarks in the city. He was one of the celebrated entrepreneurs in the 20th century and is notable for co-founding Amway Corporation.

Listed as one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of more than $2.3 billion, Van Andel passed away in 2004, the same year that his wife Betty died. His wife had Alzheimer’s and he had Parkinson’s. His entrepreneurial skills didn’t just benefit his own pockets, but also touched the lives of millions who were able to make living out of his business Amway Corporation. He is best known for his strong support for free enterprise and his strong faith in Christianity. These two things have made him an influential figure far beyond his native Grand Rapids.

His strong determination to break through in the world of business is made evident when he started marketing the supplements they manufactured through person-to-person means. He knocked door to door, explained his product and made demonstrations to market their first Amway product, L.O.C, a biodegradable household cleaner. His amiable personality and his strong command in doing sales talk have paved his company’s way to success.

Other than being an entrepreneur, he is also known as a philanthropist who has been actively giving back to the community he lives in. He has made millions of donations to conservative causes and has backed the Republican Party. He invested in smaller businesses and helped others succeed. He was strongly committed to making his community better and making his success touch other people’s lives.

His salesmanship was even evident prior to the creation of the multi-billion business. When he was still 15, he was already showing his being business-minded by charging 25 cents a week to let his classmate ride with him to school in his Model A Ford. He used the money to buy gas.

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Jay Van Andel is best known for co-founding the Amway Corporation with Richard DeVos. A staunch supporter of free enterprise, he also became the Chairman for the US Chamber of Commerce between 1979 and 1980, later on becoming a part of the Senior Council between 1980 and 1985.

In 1996, with his wife Betty, he founded the Van Andel Institute, a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan focused on science education and disease research. Van Andel was also a member of the Heritage Foundation since 1985 and supported the Grand Rapids Public Museum immensely which led to the Van Andel Museum Center. His generosity also extended downtown, creating the Van Andel Arena. As a part of the Christian Reformed Church, Van Andel also held a special interest for Christian causes.

Apart from his philanthropic works, Van Andel was also known as a strong Republican Party supporter, contributing $475,000 for the Michigan State Republican Party and $2 million for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 alone.