One man who has spent his whole life building businesses and helping others succeed while doing so, and who has never quit when faced with defeats or small setbacks, is Dick DeVos, one of Michigan’s most successful entrepreneurs and civic leaders. DeVos is CEO of the Windquest Group, and formerly president and CEO of his family’s company Amway Corporation. He and his wife Betsy have presided as Chairs on multiple boards and non-profit organizations, including the NBA’s Orlando Magic, the Michigan State Board of Education, Spectrum Health System, the Thunderbird School of Global Management, RDV Corporation, and Grand Action Committee. Both Dick and Betsy have been heavily involved in the Michigan Republican Party, including Betsy’s time as chairperson a number of years back.
Dick DeVos went into business administration right from the start, earning his undergrad in the field from Northwood University. The family company Amway was founded by his father Richard DeVos back in 1959, and Dick started working there after receiving his bachelor’s degree at only 19 years old. Just 10 years later, he became a vice president and started growing the company’s portfolio at a tremendous rate. After briefly leaving the company for a few years he returned to take over as CEO upon his father’s retirement, and under his leadership the company expanded into more than 50 countries overseas, and by the time he stepped down from this position, Amway had reported $4.5 billion in sales in his last year alone.
But aside from holding executive positions at Amway and Windquest Group, Dick DeVos has also been a supporter of school of choice and private education. His Education Freedom Fund has been responsible for garnering scholarships and vouchers for lower income families to give them a chance to attend schools of their choice. His Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation gives annually to both educational and health care providers, and he has also founded the Dick & Betsy DeVos scholarship program for enrolling students in post-secondary education for business programs. He’s also the founder of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, the first of its kind aviation charter school.
Dick DeVos even ran for governor back in 2006, only just to come up short to his Democrat opponent Jennifer Granholm. But he continued the fight in local politics, helping to get a right-to-work law passed in 2012. He’s also a major donor to the Kennedy Center’s art institute, now named the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. On his liesure time he sails in Lake Michigan’s Chicago-Mackinac race.