Why Has Dick DeVos Been Such An Important Figure In Grand Rapids’ Modern Era?

Dick DeVos Jr. is probably the epitome of the word “organizer” because he has organized countless projects in business, philanthropy and politics. He is the husband of Betsy DeVos, the current US Secretary of Education and co-founder of their company, The Windquest Group. Together, he and Betsy have set many goals to build the local Grand Rapids economy and serve diverse groups of people’s educational needs. A report this last year stated that the DeVos’s were responsible for about $139 million given to groups they support.


Dick DeVos’s organizational skills started when he was working for Amway Corporation, the company his father Richard DeVos Sr. had co-founded back in the 1950s. He reorganized the company’s marketing division and began to grow opportunities to sell services overseas. When DeVos Sr. retired, Dick took over as CEO and soon had built Alticor, a new parent corporation for Amway. By the time he stepped down, he had turned overseas sales into $4.5 billion in revenue. Dick DeVos pursued clean energy investments at The Windquest Group, and later began to form angel investment companies and technology startups under its wings.


Through the Windquest Group, Dick and Betsy formed the DeVos Foundation whose key focus areas are education, healthcare, arts and sciences and political action. The Education Freedom Fund has been a major scholarship provider for private schools the DeVos’s support, and Dick has also been involved with college grants and business schools at his alma mater Northwood University, and at the Arizona State Thunderbird School of Global Management. He helped fund Grand Rapids’s children’s hospital which was renamed for his mother Helen DeVos in 2006, and he also was the pioneer of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a prominent Michigan charter school based at the Grand Rapids Airport.


His political activity started as a young man while his father was running campaigns for then President Gerald Ford’s reelection. In the 1990s, he served on many political action committees and began organizing state Republican party campaigns while Betsy served as the chairperson. In 2006, he decided to enter politics himself and take on then Governor Jennifer Granholm in that year’s governor race. He didn’t succeed in beating her, but the nation did take notice of him. More so, when Republican legislators faced tough reelection times over the state’s 2012 right-to-work bill that was on the table, Dick DeVos was able to convince them to vote in favor of it as part of a pledge to support them in the next election.


Visit http://dickdevos.com/ to learn more.

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