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

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Jay Passes the Baton

After Rich stepped down, Jay also began thinking about retiring. In 1988, his wife, Betty, had begun losing her memory, an early sign of what would turn out to be Alzheimer’s disease. Around the same time, Jay began to notice problems with using his hands. Tests confirmed he had Parkinson’s disease. All of Jay and Betty’s children had been involved in Amway, but Jay could pick only one to succeed him. He chose his son Steve, who looked remarkably like his father—tall and lanky with a long face and fair coloring. But the two were quite different. “Steve is not a carbon copy of me,” Jay said. ‘He has never seen the need to fashion his approach to management after my own. He has his own style and his own methods, and they seem to work very well in combination with . . . Dick.”19

At age 71, Jay announced his retirement as chairman of Amway in September 1995 and passed the job on to his son. Unlike Dick, Steve had joined Amway after college and stayed there. “For the sake of continuity, Rich and I believe that it’s extremely important to perpetuate the philosophies and ideas that have been built into this company,” Jay wrote in the company’s newsletter. “We believe that the members of our families can bring that into play better than anyone else.”20 The founders had been lifelong friends and well-matched partners. Would Steve and Dick be? Understandably, long-time Amway employees were concerned about the transition and whether the company could continue thriving ...

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