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Cody Williams

By all accounts, Cody Williams isn’t afraid of taking a risk, considering his life up until now.

The Birmingham resident started his career as a police officer on the Livonia police force after college, and continued to work for a decade in the Special Operations Unit, and as a sniper on the S.W.A.T. Team for a decade.

“During my time with S.W.A.T. I had the opportunity to work in conjunction with the Secret Service guarding then Vice-President Dan Quayle, who was speaking at an outdoor event in the Detroit area,” said Williams, who comes from a long line of family working in criminal justice.

Looking for another challenge, during his time as a police officer, Williams, already a pilot, trained and became a flight instructor.

”After that, I had the opportunity to leave my police work and fly full time for Zantop International Airlines and Reliant Airlines all over North America and Europe, and did that until William Clay Ford Sr., (the late owner of the Detroit Lions) sought me out as their private pilot,” said the father of three.

In 2000, Williams began his position as captain for the William Clay Ford Aircraft Corporation, flying the 19-passenger Falcon 900EX, because he said “Mr. Ford was very interested in my police background for security reasons, along with my aviation credentials.”

While continuing to respect the Ford family’s privacy, Williams doesn’t share the many personal stories, but says he was the “family’s truckster for 20 years,” taking them to Lion’s games, family homes, vacations and anywhere a member of the family needed to go – including ocean-crossing flights to the iconic Wembley Stadium in London .

What’s the foundation for all of William’s love of a great adventure? “Probably two thing – I am wired with an entrepreneur’s mindset to create, and then everything I do is based on my strong faith,” said Williams. ”I’m never fearful in any kind of new adventure I’m taking because I believe God is supporting me always.”

His latest creation came about while using his training in electrical and pneumatic engineering as a jet pilot. “I was in my yard raking leaves for hours and thought there had to be a better way,” said Williams. “So I went to my garage and made a rough prototype by attaching the vacuum and mulcher to my leaf rake and it worked.”

With more time to devote and patents pending, he’s launching the “VentoRake” an all-in-one leaf management tool that allows for raking, vacuuming, mulching, and bagging from a 17-pound, battery powered backpack.

“The entire product has come a long way since my garage,” said Williams. “We’ve recently been nominated for a 2024 Thomas Edison Award for Innovation and will be premiering the VentoRake at the Equip Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky this October 17-20 – the Super Bowl of outdoor power equipment. “

The Williams family has made Birmingham their home for the last two-and-a-half years, and Cody and his wife Robin love taking their two grandchildren to the many parks in town. The legacy he’d like to leave his family to carry on his love of adventure would simply be to always “work to make your faith stronger than your fears, because it’s the best recipe for success in your life.”

For more information on the VentoRake visit

Story: Susan Peck

Photo: Chris Ward


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