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Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Kathryn A. Jones

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Soap and Hope

The first years of business, while exciting, were not profitable ones for Amway. Michigan National Bank gave Amway a loan when other banks refused, and Monsanto Chemical, a key Amway supplier, continued to work with the company even when Amway had a net worth of only $10,000 and owed Monsanto Chemical $60,000. By 1960, Amway had outgrown Jay’s and Rich’s basements. The partners found an abandoned gas station in Ada and hired a contractor to put a door on a bathroom and to build some shelving. In the first full year of operating, Amway had gross sales of $500,000.20

As Amway continued to grow, the partners kept expanding the building, then built a 5,600-square-foot manufacturing facility. The partners also began to realize each other’s strengths and how best to use them. They didn’t sit down and say, “You do this and I’ll do that.” It was more of a natural division of tasks. Rich was the stronger motivational speaker and head of distributor relations. Jay had more of a knack with financial analysis and internal affairs. “Rich was the seller, and Jay kept his eyes on the books. They made a great pair,” said the late President Gerald Ford, a long-time friend of Amway’s founders.21 Rich enjoyed making his “Selling America” motivational speeches to various groups and rallying the sales force, while Jay liked to see which products generated the most profits and how to fine-tune the business to make it as efficient and effective as possible. Jay was older, so he served as ...

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