Flimflam Is Out
I'M HAVING COFFEE with Rich DeVos. We're talking about the extraordinary growth of Amway. He tells me that there are 3 million Amway distributors and salespeople all over the world.
Three million! And he says that he has made hundreds of these folks millionaires.
“Tell me,” I ask, “how would you sum up your success?”
“It's unbelievably simple,” he says. “I tell my salespeople that when they're calling on someone, it's ‘the buyer first, me second’.
“I'm going to tell you something else. I don't think there are very many who know the story I'm about to tell you.
“When Jay (Jay Van Andel) and I started, we began by buying a sales kit to sell Nutrilite, a food supplement. We knew we wanted to be in business for ourselves and decided that's how we should start.
“Jay sent them a check for 50 dollars to buy the Nutrilite sales kit and some samples. And he had to borrow the money to do that. I didn't even have any money to contribute.
“Well, over the years the business really grew. There was no one else like us. We made a lot of millionaires out of our distributors and salespeople.
“Now here's the part most people don't know.
“Peter Grace came to me one day. He was CEO of the big conglomerate W.R. Grace. It was a powerhouse, one of the largest corporations in the country at that time.
“‘We want to buy you,’ Grace tells me.
“I tell him we're not for sale.
“‘If you don't sell,’ he says, ‘I'm going to go into the same business and compete against you. And you don't ...