Amway in the 1960s: A decade of explosive growth

Editor’s note: 2019 marks Amway’s 60th anniversary. We’re celebrating with a series of blogs highlighting the company’s history, milestones, products and legacy. Join the conversation by leaving a hashtag comment on each blog. Published comments will be entered into a drawing for free products in our Amway through the Decades Giveaway*!

Expansive growth

The first decade of business for Amway delivered milestone after milestone. Founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel knew they had something good in the U.S. and wanted more people to benefit.

They tested the waters of international expansion by opening up in Canada in 1962. That same year, taking control of some product manufacturing, they built the company’s first factory—an aerosol plant.

That factory empowered the company to deliver high-quality goods on its own schedule instead of relying on outside vendors. That initial growth allowed Amway to top $25 million in sales and reach more than 500 employees just five years after launch.

Early packages of Amway Dish Drops dishwashing liquid shown on the production line. It was one of Amway's first products and remains popular today.

New products

Their product line greatly expanded throughout the decade, too. In 1963, Amway debuted Queen™ Cookware, now known as iCook™ in North America—a high-quality line for use on any style of cooktop. 1967 saw the introduction of Dish Drops™ Dishwashing Liquid, a highly concentrated, biodegradable cleaner and still one of Amway’s top sellers.

And in 1968 the Artistry™ brand debuted with 11 skincare and cosmetic products with 37 different shades. Artistry™ would eventually grow to become one of the top selling premium skin care brands.

An explosion and fire

However, just as they learned with the failed business attempts that preceded Amway, success isn’t guaranteed. In 1969, a midnight explosion rocked the Amway aerosol manufacturing plant, destroying the building.

“We were at home, not far from Amway, and we heard a huge explosion,” recalled Jay’s son, Amway Co-chairman Steve Van Andel. “No one knew what it was. I noticed my dad got up right away because in his mind something was not right. Ada was not that big at the time.”

Rich was out of town, but Jay was on the scene when reporters questioned him about the impact of the fire. Rich’s son Amway Co-chairman Doug DeVos recalled watching the news coverage from that night.

‘We’re going to rebuild’

“Jay was speaking with the reporter and the flames were still burning in the background,” Doug said. “He was asked about what was next for Amway. Even though it was the middle of the night, Jay looked right in the camera, and without hesitation said, ‘We’re going to rebuild.’

“I reflected on all of the other answers he could have given. Maybe he’d have to wait and talk with Rich? Maybe he’d need to discuss with the insurance company? Perhaps a meeting with management? None of those. Jay never wavered on his commitment to taking Amway forward, no matter how difficult the current circumstances may have seemed. He only had one direction—forward!”

Amway Founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel stand in their Ada offices with distributors in the early years of the business.

A commitment

Steve said that reaction exemplified who his dad and Rich were and continued to be throughout the history of Amway, whether it was a foreign government creating roadblocks for the direct selling industry or a tsunami wiping out a distribution chain.

“It didn’t matter what it was from their perspective, when something stopped they tried to figure out how to keep it moving forward,” he said. “Their commitment to Amway Independent Business Owners was a priority.

“Even at that time, they had so many IBOs with a business of their own, and they were going to keep it going for them, the employees and everyone else who depended on the Amway business. That’s always been their perspective.”

And the aerosol plant? It reopened in six months.

Today, Amway owns and operates 15 manufacturing and processing plants across the globe, including at the original Ada campus.

What’s your hashtag?

What does the story of the first decade mean to you? What hashtag would you use to describe that time of Amway’s history? What hashtag describes their never-ending efforts to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles came their way?

Post your hashtag comment below and be entered to win a 12.3 fl. oz. bottle of Amway Home™ Prewash Spray. And come back to Amway Connections each week for more blogs marking Amway’s 60th anniversary and opportunities to win our Amway through the Decades Giveaway*!


*The Amway through the Decades Giveaway is sponsored by Amway Corp. and runs from April 18 - July 1, 2019. No purchase necessary.  See official rules here.

16 Comments

  • Ryson says:

    #ascend

  • Eric says:

    #dontstopbeliving
    #wayoflife
    #waveofthefuture

  • Edris says:

    #commitment

  • Joe says:

    Courage and committment describe Rich & Jay as they yet to know they are creating an empire .

  • Derek says:

    #fortheIBOs

  • Isis says:

    #turndownforwhat

    #whywestand

    #brickbybrick

  • Adriana says:

    #highquality
    #forthepeople
    #empoweredemployees
    #expansivegrowth

  • puneel says:

    #ATrueCompanyForPeople
    #AmwayIsTheBest
    #Opportunity
    #IBO
    #BeLeader

  • Sujatha says:

    #BlastForward – Every leader, every visionary is like the sun, no matter how many times they go down, they always rise up. Thanks to such strong visionaries that I have the same opportunity that they had !

  • kanun says:

    #Amway, the best opportunity.

  • Bert says:

    #CommitmentOverChallenges

  • Mike says:

    It is their #CommitmentToExcellence at to why they are the world’s largest and best in this industry!

  • Heather says:

    #perseverance #tenacity This is what it takes to be successful!

  • Elizabeth says:

    #dedication to serve IBO’s and their employees.

  • Robert says:

    In 1959 I was a freshman in high school at a private school in Prairie du Chien Wisconsin. Ten years later I was working for a Fortune 200 company in Indianapolis IN as a purchasing agent and was with them for 10.5 years. Soon after that stint, a friend told me about a small company in Western Michigan which was growing by leaps and was looking for people to help it grow. That was 1977. I sent them a resume’ though never heard from them. Then I went to work for another manufacturer in Indianapolis as a purchasing agent. Two years later, I get a call from Amway about my two year old resume’ I sent to them. They flew me to Ada MI twice in three months and then called and asked me if I wanted the the position being offered. After discussing with my family #family, I took the job. The opportunity changed my entire life for the better. I worked for Amway in a number of positions for 4 1/2 years within the purchasing/inventory control/planning departments and got a really good feel for the company. As life changes, so does opportunities and I was offered a management position with an adoption agency to be their systems & procedures manager. Two years later, I decided it was time for me to take control of my life #self-employment so that I could have better opportunities for my family. Five years later, I became an IBO for Amway. Had it not been for Amway and what they offered, I wouldn’t have achieved an AS as well as a BSBA degrees #education nor been able to, eventually, come really close to a Masters degree. Had it not been for Amway, I wouldn’t be who I am today constantly pushing #forward regardless of what life throws at us.

  • Timmyd says:

    We are Amway – This has changed my life!
    Thank you Amway Leadership team.

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