Dick DeVos: The Life And Career Of One Of Michigan’s Greatest Entrepreneurs

Dick DeVos is a businessman, former president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, education and political activist, philanthropist, and you could basically say he has done it all. Besides formerly serving as leader of the family business Amway Corporation, he also was elected chair of the Michigan State Board of Education in 1990, served on the Grand Valley State University Board of Control, started up the Education Freedom Fund, and founded the Dick & Betsy Devos Foundation, a philanthropic organization that has devoted its work to improving life in the city of Grand Rapids. He sits on Grand Action, an non-profit organization tasked with rebuilding and growing the economy of downtown Grand Rapids. Currently he is CEO of an investment firm The Windquest Group.

Dick learned much about business from his father, Richard Devos who started up Amway Corporation, of America’s chief direct selling companies. Amway manufactures all kinds of products that are sold directly to clients, who in turn can sell them for a profit, and Dick DeVos learned the ins and outs of the business model. He got his bachelor’s degree from Northwood University, later on completing his doctorates at Northwood as well as Central Michigan University. He served first at Amway as head of lower divisions in the company, but was vice president of company operations in a little over 10 years. He left the Amway for a brief period to become president of the Orlando Magic, but returned as CEO, a position he held for 10 years and saw the company expand to over 50 countries overseas.

In between business operations, Dick and his wife Betsy have poured in a lot of resources to improving the state’s education. Their Education Freedom Fund aims to provide school of choice as an option to lower income families. Dick DeVos also started up the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a regular charter school that also brings education in aviation into the curriculum.

Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy are staunch GOP supporters, with Betsy formerly presiding as chair of the Michigan State Republican Party. Dick has long supported conservative organizations and causes, and in 2006 he made a bid to run in Michigan’s Gubernatorial race. He lost a close race to incumbent Jennifer Granholm, but he continued to actively fund conservative agendas in Michigan.