Some say Amway should be called “ScAmway” and that the organization has a “cult-like” following.

But Steve Van Andel, a dynastic heir of the multi level marketing (MLM) empire claims that he is “not in the business of making a fast buck by just recruiting people,” reports India’s Economic Times.

However, a legacy of lawsuits seems to present a very different picture.

Amway appears to have largely run out of gas and leveled off within the United States. Its name, rather than representing trademark cache, seemingly is a PR liability—so it was essentially changed.

Amway is now controlled by its parent company called “Alticor” and it sells products through the Internet under the name “Qwixtar.”

But this effort has not been that successful. So what’s an MLM’s ambitious heirs to do?

Apparently Amway’s answer is expansion into international markets overseas, where details about its troubled history remain largely unknown.

The MLM giant has moved into China, Africa, Malaysia and India.

The Economic Times asked Alticor’s chairman, son of Amway co-founder Jay Van Andel, “What percentage of people who join [MLMs]…become really successful? Is it too miniscule a percentage?”

Steve Van Andel never really answered the question.

His closest response was, “Success is relative to the goals people set for themselves.”


India is a developing country and many of its people are struggling to get by. The Times seemed obliged to point out, “Direct marketing is often looked at with skepticism by the world at large…get-rich-quick schemes are what first springs to mind.”

Some seem to feel that this description is analogous to Amway.

Rather than primarily focusing on the “great products” touted by Van Andel, the real emphasis at Amway many claim is actually recruiting others into the “plan” or “dream”—as ardent participants often call it.

Specifically, for many Amway distributors the organization becomes a way of life and joining the MLM represents the equivalent of an almost religious conversion experience.

Amway’s faithful fellowship at constant meetings and conferences. They also listen to sales sermons through teaching tapes, which are often called “tools.”

Conferences, “tools” and the commissions paid from “starter kits,” frequently represent a large portion of the profits made by some MLM “uplines.”

There is no question that Amway has made a “miniscule percentage” “really successful.”

Jay Van Andel is worth $1.5 billion dollars and owns a luxury resort island, reports Forbes.

Amway co-founder Richard DeVos weighs in with $200 million more at $1.7 billion.

These two men are like whales within the MLM ocean.

But it looks like the “little fish” “downline” in Amway have little hope of joining the elite and “miniscule…percentage” that make it really big.

Interestingly, right now there is proposed legislation that could weaken existing laws in the US, which protect the public from MLM “get rich quick schemes.”

One former Amway distributor recently said, “I lost all I had, great job, my financial future, my wife, children, and soul.”

But with seeming ambivalence he still claims, “With all that, there were moments where the future was mine for the taking and will never forget some of the special people and moments I had while in Amway.”

Indeed, who could ever forget the people met in an experience that ended like that?


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