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

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Jay Van Andel

For Jay, the path to that point began long before he was born and an ocean away in the Netherlands. In 1909 Christian Van Andel, Jay’s paternal grandfather, was living with his wife, Elizabeth, and two sons, James and Christian Jr., in the Dutch city of Haarlem situated along the banks of the River Spaarne west of Amsterdam. For centuries, the town, which dates to the Middle Ages, has been the center of Holland’s tulip-growing region. Christian worked hard at his bicycle shops and blacksmith business, but the family still struggled financially. He decided to follow the lead of other Europeans who had fallen on hard times. At age 50, he left in search of new opportunities, and in 1910 moved with his wife and sons to America. Christian’s sister had already left Holland and urged them to join her in Chicago.

The city on the shores of Lake Michigan was like another world for the close-knit family, thrust from a small Dutch community with a slow-turning, picturesque windmill into a whirling mass of people, engines, and industry. Decades earlier, the Industrial Revolution had transformed Chicago into a manufacturing and trade center and the hub of the nation’s rail system. By the time the Van Andels arrived, Chicago ranked as the fourth-largest city in the world behind London, New York, and Paris. It was booming largely due to immigrants. More than three-quarters of its population either were foreigners or had one parent born in another country.2 Elevated trains crisscrossed ...

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