Dick Devos – Entrepreneur

In 1991 a plan was being formed to construct a sports and convention arena north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dick DeVos was quick to oppose this construction project, reasoning that the arena would be bad for Grand Rapid’s downtown district. Similar structures, like the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills, had had a negative effect on the local economy. DeVos believed that the arena should instead be constructed in Grand Rapid’s central business district.


DeVos’s opposition to the project led to the creation of Grand Action. Formed by local Detroit business leaders, Grand Action led to the completion of construction projects like the DeVos Performance Hall, the Van Andel Arena, the medical school at Michigan State University, and Grand Rapids City Market.


Dick DeVos was destined to be a businessman from birth. He was born to Helen and Richard DeVos. His father, along with Jay Van Andel, founded the multi-level marketing company Amway. As a child, Dick was involved with the family business, often acting as a host during Amway’s yearly conventions.


Dick DeVos attended Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. It was here that he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Grove City College and Central Michigan University.


In 1974, DeVos began working for Amway Corporation. He held a number of positions in departments such as research and development, sales, marketing, and manufacturing. In 1984, DeVos was made vice president of Amway. In this position, DeVos oversaw operations in 18 different countries. He is credited with tripling the company’s foreign sales.


In 1993, Dick DeVos succeeded his father as President of Amway. During this time, DeVos was able to expand Amway’s business to more than 50 countries. In 2000, DeVos instigated a corporate restructuring, which led to the creation of Alticor. Alticor is now the parent company of Amway, along with several other business ventures. In 2002, Dick DeVos retired from Alticor and became president of the investment management firm Windquest Group.


DeVos has long been active in politics and philanthropy. DeVos and his wife Betsy have advocated for school vouchers and the rights for families to choose an educational institution for their children. They have also rallied for vouchers and tuition tax credits for private education.


Dick DeVos is also president of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, an organization that has donated millions of dollars to educational and artistic programs in the Grand Rapids area. In 2008 the Dick and Betsy DeVos Scholarship was established. This scholarship provides funds for students at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. DeVos has also given generously to environmental studies. He contributed money to fund an 18-month study of the pollution sources in Lake Macatawa.


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