Amway Corp is World Trader of the Year again

April 29, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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Amway Corp., which was named World Trader of the Year by the West Michigan World Trade Association 17 years ago, will receive that honor again today. Ken Davis, vice president of global logistics, will accept the 2011 award for Amway at the Economic Club luncheon at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.

Each year during World Trade Week, which starts today, the WMWTA recognizes a business, organization or individual in the region that has demonstrated a commitment to international trade.

“We continue to be a big exporter from this area — and actually, from the U.S.,” said Davis, who has been with the company 31 years. “Last year we moved about 9,700 shipments — containers,” he said.

Most go to the West Coast, where they are put on ships. “(They go) all over the world, but a larger percentage of those are going to Asia.”

According to the WMWTA, Amway is now a $9 billion global enterprise with more than 4,500 U.S. employees, 8,500 global employees and 4 million independent distributors who sell Amway products in more than 82 countries and territories. Amway manufactures more than 450 products under four main categories: nutrition and wellness, beauty, home care and personal care. Its two flagship brands are Artistry cosmetics and Nutrilite vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements.

According to WMWTA, the 9,700 containerized export shipments support $8 billion in non-U.S. sales from the $9 billion total.

Amway’s direct sales business has grown from $6.7 billion in 2006 to a projected $10 billion in 2011, according to WMWTA. One of the most recent markets Amway has expanded into was Vietnam in 2008.

The company operates a comprehensive supply chain, from researching and cultivating natural and organic ingredients on three Amway-owned farms, to the warehousing and logistics that deliver 85 million orders directly to customers.

Amway’s extensive business overseas enables it to leverage trade agreements with nine countries that save it millions annually in foreign import duties, according to the WMWTA. The agreements favor Amway’s U.S.-manufactured products, making them more attractive in foreign markets and supporting the U.S. economy.

“We have one of the biggest cosmetics plants in the world here,” said Davis of the Ada location, where the Artistry products are made. The Ada operations employ about 3,000 people, estimated Davis, who noted that its logistics division alone employs 950.

Amway vitamins are produced in Buena Park, Calif., and there are other U.S. production operations in Georgia, Texas and Hawaii, according to Davis. Amway has other operations worldwide, and the business in general is “still growing.”

The strongest overseas markets are primarily in Asia and India, but Davis noted that “our U.S. market has shown some increase in sales.”

As for the recession years just ended, Davis said that in general, Amway “did OK. We hit our target in most cases, for the top line.”

“I think we were steady through the whole recession, and again, our top line seems to be OK, relative to coming out of a recession,” said Davis, noting that he can see that reflected in the shipping and logistics.

The world oil price increase has the attention of virtually all international shippers. Davis said he has not seen an impact yet on Amway. “But we do know the cost of oil will have an impact. Everyone’s being impacted by that fuel increase.”

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