Dick Devos – Businessman and Philanthropist

Leaders of the town of Grand Rapids, Michigan began developing a plan to construct an arena in 1991. The arena, which would be used mostly for sporting events and conventions, was slated to be built north of the city. Local businessman Dick DeVos quickly voiced his opposition to the planned arena. DeVos reasoned that the location of the project would have a negative effect on the downtown district of Grand Rapids. DeVos deduced this based on similar effects caused by structures like the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Pontiac Silverdome. These structures, once completed, drove customers and money out of the local economy. DeVos proposed that the new arena should be built in the central business district of Grand Rapids.


Dick DeVos then went on to form Grand Action: a committee made up of local Detroit businesspeople. This group, under DeVos’s direction, oversaw the planning and construction of projects such as the Grand Rapids City Market, the DeVos Performance Hall, and the medical school building at Michigan State University.


Dick DeVos has long been interested in leading businesses. His father, Richard DeVos, co-founded Amway, a multi-level marketing firm. Richard DeVos made efforts to involve his son in business from a young age, teaching him the methods and techniques of successful businesspeople. One of Dick DeVos’s earliest involvement in his father’s company was his childhood role of host at Amway’s annual convention.


After graduating high school, Dick DeVos enrolled in the business school at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. He graduated from Northwood with a degree in business administration and has since earned honorary doctorates from Central Michigan University and Grove City College.


In 1974, following his college graduation, DeVos took a role at his father’s company. He worked throughout the company, holding positions in departments such as sales, marketing, manufacturing, and development. By 1984, DeVos had proven himself to be a savvy businessman and was promoted to Vice President of Amway. DeVos used his position to move Amway into foreign markets. The company began operating in 18 different countries, and DeVos is credited with more than doubling Amway’s international sales.


By 1993, Richard DeVos had stepped down as president of Amway, and Dick DeVos took over the position. During his role as president, DeVos continued to expand Amway’s foreign business, setting up operations in more than 50 countries. In 2000, Alticor was created after DeVos oversaw a corporate restructuring of Amway. Alticor now acts as the parent company of Amway and several other businesses. DeVos stepped down as president of Alticor in 2002 in order to become president of Windquest Group, an investment management firm.


DeVos has used his position to participate in philanthropy and politics. He and his wife Betsy have been active in fighting for school improvements and the rights of students. DeVos has worked to implement school voucher systems and tax credits for private educational facilities. DeVos has also donated millions of dollars to artistic and educational programs in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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