Our Story

History of the IBOAI®

Our Story

The Independent Business Owners Association International, Inc.® (IBOAI) puts the Independent Business Owners' (IBOs') interests first. It was designed that way in 1959 and continues to operate that way today. Every IBOAI Board Member takes an oath to represent all IBOs.

Amway Co-founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel made it clear that the IBO was their first priority when they, along with founding Field Leaders, formed the American Way Association (AWA), which many years later became what is now commonly known as the IBOAI.

History of IBOAI - Jody Victor
IBOAI - Your Voice, Your Advocate
60 Years of Representation
We Represent the Best

IBOAI Founders

The year was 1959, and a manufacturer and its separate marketing company were locked in a dispute over distribution rights that could affect the livelihood of the company's independent Distributors.

Faced with this crisis, two of the leading Distributors, Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, called a meeting with several of their top downline Distributors in Charlevoix, Michigan. Out of that meeting came a new Distributor organization, the American Way Association.

The original members of the AWA included not only Jay and Rich but also other pioneers such as Walter Bass, Fred Hansen, Joe Victor and Jere Dutt. It was decided eventually that Jay and Rich would head a sales company that would supply products and that the AWA, now the IBOAI® (Independent Business Owners Association International, Inc.®), would serve as the voice of the Distributor network to promote the interests and protect the rights of the Distributors.

A Voice for Distributors

Fred Hansen's widow, Bernice Hansen, recalled Jay and Rich asking what they would like to see in the new corporation. "We told them we wanted a voice for Distributors in the field and Distributorships we could pass on to our heirs," Bernice said.

Jody Dutt is the son of Jere and of Eileen, who have passed away. Jody said, "In those days (leading up to 1959) the rules had been changing almost monthly. The AWA was founded to protect what people like my dad and mom had built."

Jody Victor, son of Joe & Helyne Victor, points out "Every Distributor has a chance to be heard. The AWA, now the IBOAI, would listen intently to everyone, from the newest to the oldest IBO".

Key to the Opportunity

To this day, the voice of the Distributor is a vital component of the Business.

"My father sold [the value of] the Association more than anything," said Jody Dutt. "He'd talk about the rights, the independence you were guaranteed-that you could build something you owned and pass it on to your kids."

A Business for Generations

That original concept of inheritable Distributorships was prophetic of the family nature of the Business. All of the pioneers mentioned previously have children and grandchildren in the Business today.

Great-grandmother Bernice Hansen has three daughters and sons-in-law in her business. Jody Victor's son Steve became the first third-generation Platinum & Sapphire. Jody's youngest son, Joe, has also attained the level of Sapphire.

The Rock on which the Future Is Built

Like the other founders, Jere Dutt insisted there was no limit to what the AWA and the Corporation could accomplish. Jody Dutt remembered his father saying "that we would grow around the world because what we're selling is not just a product or a company. We're showing people how to be independent."

Copyright 1998. Source: October 1998 Amagram® magazine. Reprinted with permission.

(Amagram® was the monthly publication for IBOs. Effective 9/1/99, Amagram® was replaced by Achieve™)

IBOAI Milestones


The Association Idea Takes Form

In November, Nutrilite Distributors Jere and Eileen Dutt, Fred and Bernice Hansen, Joe and Helyne Victor, Rich DeVos, and Jay Van Andel meet in Charlevoix, Michigan, to discuss forming a distributor association. They agree to make it formal at their next meeting.


The Association Is Incorporated

In April, operating through the Ja-Ri Corporation, the Dutts, the Hansens, the Victors, DeVos, Van Andel and a few others form an association to gain a powerful voice promoting their interests and protecting their rights. The Association is incorporated in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a non-profit organization under the name "The American Way Association" (AWA). 

Walter Bass is the first President of the Association. The AWA Board meets monthly to investigate products for Distributors to retail to earn income. Products must meet five principles: universal appeal, repeatable sales, unlimited potential, not tied to the economy, and support free enterprise. 

An AWA seal is developed to identify products that meet the AWA criteria, which appear on products approved by the Board. L.O.C. is the first product, SA8 is the second – brands that pass the test of time over the decades.


Canada is the First International Market

Amway officially opens for business in Canada. Soon, England and Australia will follow and the International Amway business will blossom.


Amway Corporation Is Born

Ja-Ri Corporation merges with Sales, Services, and Manufacturing to become Amway Corporation. The AWA begins advising the new company in all areas of its operations that affect Distributors, just as it continues to do today.


First Diamonds Recognized

Dutts are Amway’s first Diamonds, followed quickly by Hansens and Victors. They attend the first Bahama Rama with 13 Distributorships in celebration. AWA recommends new pin levels as Distributors are drawn to the opportunity and leaders build growth.


A New Name: The ADA

The American Way Association changes its name to ADA-U.S. Simultaneously, Canadian IBOs form the ADA-Canada to provide the same protection and representation U.S. IBOs receive through the ADA-U.S.

1960s and 1970s

IBO growth causes a huge expansion of corporate facilities in Ada, Michigan. To keep up with the expansion of product selection and support staff, the Board initials the addition of new production facilities: liquids, powder, aerosol, plastics, even cardboard and printing. Distribution and warehousing are added. The Amway complex in Ada grows to a mile long.

Amway buys majority ownership rights in Nutrilite Inc. and guarantees integrity of lines of sponsorship.


Rich DeVos creates the powerful “Ten Points” talk, assuring the Field of its future.


Board Members attend the dedication of the new Center of Free Enterprise, which becomes the Corporate Headquarters and ushers in a new age of international expansion of the Business.


September 1, 1976 1% added to the IBO Compensation Plan.


Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos arrive at a Board Meeting and announced that the FTC has just requested thousands of documents for an investigation. “It puts us in league with some of the largest companies in the nation,” says Jay. “We are confident we will win.” And we did. To this day it stands as proof of the validity of the business model.


Members of the Board join at the dedication ceremonies for the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, accompanied by several heads of state and the sitting U.S. President, Ronald Reagan.

New Cosmetics Production Plant finishes expansion in Ada. State of the Art on-site facilities support growth of Distributor beauty business. Company expansion now moves off-complex.

Board Members are enthusiastic about the business opportunity in other countries; the Corporation expands Amway into Latin America, Europe, Asia, and places few would have imagined, including Eastern Europe, Russia, and China.


Amway and the IBOAI Board agreed to raise only PV by 20%.


ADA Board celebrates its 25th Anniversary as the voice and advocate of the IBO.

ADA Board commissions Paul Collins to create the Bond mural.


Association Council Created

Together, ADA-U.S. and ADA-Canada adopt an agreement with the Corporation that creates the ADA Council and legally clarifies its role as an advisor and consultant to the Corporation.

The ADR process, with Jody Victor as IBOAI Board President, evolved into Rule 11.


ADA-U.S. and ADA-Canada Combine

ADA-U.S. and ADA-Canada combine to form a single organization named The ADA. A larger Board is formed to replace the Boards of Directors of both former organizations.

The Corporation formally agrees to submit to The ADA any proposed new policy or policy change that might affect IBOs in the U.S. and Canada. These include, but are not limited to, changes in the Sales and Marketing Plan, changes to the Rules of Conduct for IBOs, and changes to various IBO documents. Final decision-making authority continues to remain with the Company.


A New Name: The IBOA International

The ADA is renamed the Independent Business Owners Association International (IBOA International or IBOAI) to embrace all that Distributors have become.

The launch of Quixtar (now Amway) as an opportunity in the e-commerce model represents a new era for Independent Business Owners.


IBOs and their customers make Quixtar the #1 online Health & Beauty Retailer, a mark achieved multiple years in a row.


Jim Janz becomes first Canadian Chairman of the North American IBOAI Board. Jim has been active on the Board for 25 years, including 15 years as Chairman of the Canadian Board.


Amway begins rebranding, to be completed in 2009. Formerly Quixtar, the Corporation is rebranded to take advantage of the many positives surrounding the original Amway name worldwide.


IBOAI celebrates its 50th anniversary in March as the primary advocacy organization for IBOs, noting that before there was an Amway there was an Association. IBOAI events include dedication of the William J. Halliday Memorial Board Room (author of the original Association charter) and a festive celebration with current and past Board Members, Corporate associates, second and third generation family members, Founding Family Member Bernice Hansen plus special guest Wintley Phipps of the U.S. Dream Academy.


IBOAI and Amway worked together for ten months to create and implement Accreditation Plus for all Approved Providers.


The adoption of the Accreditation Plus program developed by the IBOAI and Amway.


Former Marketing Advisory Committee was transitioned from ad-hoc committee to a full standing committee of the IBOAI Board.


Collaborative effort between IBOAI and Amway developing on online registration process.


IBOAI and Amway worked together for more than one year to review, rewrite and restructure the Rules of Conduct.


IBOAI worked with Amway to create the Music Copyright Guide.

The Board through theBusiness Operations Committee worked with Amway to launch the Mobile App.


The Board through the Officers, Governance & Oversight Committee ("OGO") worked with Amway to develop and implement A+ 2.0 (The next level of Accreditation Plus).


The Board through OGO worked with IBOs and Amway Corporation to develop successful integration/estate planning/succession planning criteria for IBOs. The Board assisted and continues to assist many IBOs in helping them develop plans for their estates.

The Board through OGO worked with Amway in the development and creation of the new Business Reference Guide.


The Board through its Executive Committee worked with Amway to develop and create the following:

Two percent (2%) moved from The Growth Incentive Program to The IBO Compensation Plan, increasing the Leadership Bonus from 4% to 6%.

Implemented recognition of Full Volume Platinums and expanded the recognition of Ruby Volume.

Worked with Amway Corporation to revamp the FAA program.


The Board through OGO drafted and shared with Amway executives a document explaining election procedure and protocol for Board Members, the IBOAI Mission Statement, and the succession plan for IBOAI leadership.

The Executive Committee approved the position of Chairman Emeritus as well as Mentoring Chairman Emeritus. Bob Andrews was unanimously elected as the first Chairman Emeritus.


The IBOAI celebrates its 60th Anniversary. IBOAI events included a welcome reception in the IBOAI office. A plated meal in the Pantlind Ballroom that was transformed to an enchanted garden. And a closing dessert reception in the Family suites. Current and past Board members, Corporate Executives, second and third generation, and DeVos and Van Andel family members attended this event.

The Board through OGO worked with Amway to complete a rewrite of the Best Practice Messages.


The Board through OGO worked with Amway to develop and create the following:

Business Transformation Initiative.

Updated Opportunity Messaging.

Assets put in place to better support customer sales.


The Board through its Executive Committee worked with Amway on Business Transformation Development and Implementation.

Together We Represent the Best

A note from Jody Victor:

They were the Fabulous '50s, when cars had fins, kids had hula hoops, and families with television sets welcomed Ed Sullivan and Ozzie and Harriet into their living rooms. Near the end of that decade, the Business was starting to take off in some of those living rooms. And from the beginning, the entrepreneurs who embraced the Opportunity have had a strong, active voice in the Business.

Today that voice is the Independent Business Owners Association International, Inc.® (the "IBOAI®")—a clear, open channel of communication with Amway North America and an Association that any IBO can join. Guided by your elected Board, the IBOAI provides ongoing interaction and collaborating with Amway™ to make the Business the best it can be.

The Association (now known as the IBOAI) was born in 1959. Its seven original Board members supported five key principles in developing their Business. These five principles remain as true today as they were then:

  1. The Business offers a universal Opportunity, available to people from all walks of life.
  2. The Business offers products that people always need and use. This was very significant to the original Board members who had personal memories of the Great Depression.
  3. Success is based on repeat business and long-term relationships. There's no room for shortcuts or fly-by-night operators. Your word is your worth, and your worth is your word.
  4. The Opportunity offers potential without territorial restrictions. Intangible benefits include supportive relationships and the fact that it's well-suited to participation by the whole family.
  5. The Business is the perfect embodiment of the free enterprise concept.

What's so remarkable is the vision of those first Board members who set forth these enduring principles. People and their needs have always come first.

The IBOAI is becoming more effective than ever at working for improvement in a rapidly changing business environment. It is an organization with an independent Board representing Independent Business Owners in the Field. Thus, the IBOAI and its Board appreciate your ongoing support to continue to serve as the voice of all IBOs.

Send us your ideas and concerns, either through your upline or directly to the IBOAI office at the following address:

IBOA International
220 Lyon Street NW Suite 850
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Your financial support is critical, too, for the Board and the IBOAI to continue to address all aspects of the Business. In 1959, it cost one dollar to support the Association. Today, a small, voluntary contribution beginning with your second Amway contract year for just $16 per year will aid the Board's efforts.

Since 1959, the Opportunity has only improved. I say that as an IBO leader and longtime Board member with early memories of the IBO Business and Compensation Plan being presented in one of those 1950s living rooms. Our work together today to strengthen the IBOAI will help ensure that the Opportunity continues to improve for generations to come!

Jody Victor

Jody Victor's father, Joe Victor, was one of the seven original Board members, and Jody's son, Stephen, was the first third-generation Sapphire IBO. In 1982, Jody began his Association Board service, which has included several terms as president and many years as on officer on the Governance and Oversight Committee.