The History of Amway

The History of Amway

What does the word Amway mean? Amway is an abbreviation for "American Way" and was coined in 1959 by company founders, Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos. Short, unique and easy to remember, Amway has been registered as a corporate name and trademark ever since.

In the following decades, Amway Corporation successfully established itself as a leading multilevel marketing business, built on strong values and founding principles that continue to sustain our company today. The business is built on the simple integrity of helping people lead better lives.

Today, Amway is a multibillion-dollar international business representing freedom and opportunity to millions of people in more than 100 countries and territories around the world. Amway generated US $ 11.3 billion (January - December '12) in sales at estimated retail through this global product distribution network. We offer over 3 million Business Owners the inspiration to grow those businesses, and we work hard to provide new and better ways for them to achieve their life goals.




  • As a corporate leader in promoting environmental awareness and education, Amway received the prestigious United Nations Environment Programme Achievement Award in 1989.
  • Corporate Citizenship Award - On November 08, 2005, the United States Chamber of Commerce awarded Alticor with the Corporate Citizenship Award in the category of International Community Service for the One by One Campaign for Children





Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel's friendship actually began with a business proposition, when Rich struck a deal with Jay for a ride to school for 25 cents a week. After high school they entered the military, but they planned to start a business together after separate tours of duty. A friendship formed and became a business relationship that has lasted to this day.  




Amway quickly outgrew its original facilities in the basements of Rich DeVos's and Jay Van Andel's homes. In its first full year of business, Amway's sales were more than half a million dollars. 




As vowed by Jay Van Andel the night of the 1969 disaster, Amway rebuilt the aerosol plant and went on. The '70s began with sales of more than $100 million at estimated retail, and kept going strong. After a lengthy investigation, the FTC verified that Amway is a genuine business opportunity and not a "pyramid."  




The '80s will be remembered for the first Billion Dollar Year at estimated retail in 1980. Building expansion at Amway World Headquarters continued at breakneck speed as Amway scrambled to keep pace with demand, opening its new cosmetics plant in Ada, Michigan.  




As carefully planned by Rich and Jay, the second generation Van Andel and DeVos families took the helm during the ' 90s. The Policy Board was formed and Steve Van Andel and Dick DeVos succeeded their fathers as Chairman and President. Distributors witnessed a similar trend, with the second generation of many distributor families taking on important leadership roles.,  




In 2000, Amway prepared for a new century and a new exciting era.

Almost 50 years after Amway began, the DeVos and Van Andel families created a new structure to meet the challenges of this new century. A parent company, Alticor, was established with subsidiaries Amway, Quixtar and Access Business Group—the latter to consolidate manufacturing and distribution for the enterprise. At the helm of Alticor are Steve Van Andel (Chairman) and Doug DeVos (President), jointly holding the Office of the Chief Executive. Today each area of the business, including Amway, has the freedom to build on its strengths.

Amway continues to be a leading company in the direct selling industry. Its fundamental principles—freedom, family, hope and reward—hold as true today as they did in the very beginning.