WILLIAM 'BILL' NICHOLSON
Former COO Amway, U.S. Air Force Pilot, Hall of Fame Athlete, Prolific Investor & Entrepreneur
As COO of Amway Corporation for 8 1/2 years – during which time revenues increased from below $1 billion to over $10 billion – Bill was instrumental in a number of pro-environment initiatives resulting in recognition by U.N. Environmental Programme, Country of Canada and by Klaus Nobel.
Bill graduated with a finance degree, and All-American Honors for Basketball, from the University of Nevada (he was later elected to Nevada Athletic Hall of Fame). Bill served his country in the U.S. Air Force, flying two tours and over 300 combat missions in Southeast Asia. He was subsequently decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Multiple Oak Leaf Clusters, and Vietnamese Medal of Honor and Cross of Gallantry. He completed his service at the rank of Captain.
After the military, Bill joined Robert Engstrom Associates and Pemtom Builders as Vice President of Marketing. In 1974, Bill joined the White House as Appointments Secretary to President Gerald R. Ford, creating and managing the President’s schedule and serving as interface with the Cabinet Members.
Post White House, Bill threw himself into entrepreneurship as owner of multiple radio stations with partners including Dean Burch (former FCC Chairman), Bill Seidman (former FDIC Chairman), and Robin Martin (Bessemer Trust). He participated in the purchase and transition of Mutual Broadcasting and founded the Term Limits Foundation. Bill created Amway’s first Washington, D.C. Government Affairs Office.
In 1978 Bill coordinated the Presidential Campaign of then Ambassador George H.W. Bush. During this period, he became a shareholder in Swiftships, an established shipbuilding company, becoming the majority shareholder in 1979. Swiftships became the world’s largest fabricator of high speed aluminum patrol boats and support vessels for the offshore oil industry. In 1982 Bill was invited to Guangzhou to negotiate a technology transfer agreement with China Shipbuilding. The successful outcome was executed in Beijing. Swiftships was sold to a New York Stock Exchange listed firm in 1982. After the sale, Bill invested in eight vessels and two ocean-going work barges working in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Mexico, the California Coast and off India.
Bill became COO of Amway and was involved in the creation of a Co-Generation Plant at Amway fueled by Canadian natural gas and the successful IPO of the Amway Japan subsidiary, that went public at $3 billion USD and peaked at $10 billion. Bill successfully negotiated the business license for Amway China, which has become Amway’s most successful market.
After years of record-breaking earnings at Amway, Nicholson stepped up his personal investing by becoming Director/Investor in GenMar, the world’s largest independent recreational boat manufacturer. He also became Investor/Director of Irwin Jacobs’ $500 million IMR Fund, and an investor in Jacobs Trading Company and its affiliated company World’s Greatest Deals. Bill also invested in FLW Outdoors, the world’s largest producer of fishing competitions, Partner in development of Planet Hollywood restaurants in Vancouver, Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Washington D.C
With a Texas-based partner commencing in 1990, Bill acquired 28 major real estate properties throughout Texas from the RTC and FDIC. Bill was Director/Investor to Hope River Ventures and Hopen Therapeutics. These ventures focus on life science opportunities in therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics, and Natural gas exploration in the North Texas Barnett.
In 2001, Bill once again became involved in full-time management as Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of a nutritional rollup venture which included either the creation or acquisition of major brands such as Twinlab Corporation, Metabolite, Alvita Tea, Nature’s Herbs, Cole Water, Dr. Greene and NitriScience along with the contract manufacturing for some of the largest nutritional brands and marketers. Twinlab has taken steps to become a publicly traded firm.
Still committed to sustainability, Bill has become a Director and Shareholder of Ecomerit Technologies.
Bill has numerous other accomplishments including: selected as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America in 1976, appointed to the Presidential Commission on Personnel Interchange in 1977, elected as one of the Outstanding Young Political Leaders in 1977, 1980 Offshore Power Boat Racing Champion, 1989-90 Chairman of the Michigan Export Authority. Since 1990 Bill serves on numerous corporate and philanthropic boards. and is the co-Founder of Taft-Nicholson Center for the Humanities in conjunction with the University of Utah and co-Founder of a multi-branded initiative with Dr. Art Ulene to reduce obesity and Type II Diabetes