Dick DeVos has been featured in several news primetime shows and business outlets and he found his way into the national spotlight again when his wife Betsy became the 11th US Secretary of Education. This time DeVos made headlines by revealing the answer to the question of just how much he’s given to philanthropy over the years. Just prior to Betsy’s confirmation hearings, Dick DeVos released a statement of $139 million that the couple had given to charity over their lifetimes. The $139 million has funded all kinds of non-profits ranging from politically conservative activists, healthcare initiatives, education and civic centers. Dick DeVos has also funded several groups through his company The Windquest Group.
Dick DeVos founded The Windquest Group in 1989 though he started taking it bigger after 2002 when he stepped down from Amway Corporation. The Windquest Group was founded as an investment company for alternative but powerful energy initiatives and is the holding company for Electratherm Energy. But it’s also the holding company for several other companies in home storage, restaurants and even now a brewery. Dick got his business training from working at Amway, a company his father Richard DeVos Sr. who owns the NBA’s Orlando Magic founded. DeVos learned the ins and outs of business management during his time at Amway. He was vice president there from 1984 to 1989 and then became CEO in 1993. But most importantly he’s brought his business skills to philanthropic leadership.
His first efforts to assist private schools began in 1990 as a member of the Michigan State Board of Education. Later after starting the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, he and Betsy began assisting families and private schools through scholarship funds generated through Education Freedom Fund, Children’s Scholarship Fund and Children First America. The DeVos’s later formed the Great Lakes Education Association which connected the state’s various charter schools, and then later opened an aviation-based charter school known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick DeVos has given to and sat on the board of Grand Rapids development groups including Grand Action formerly known as Grand Vision. This group has transformed downtown Grand Rapids through building arts and sports venues and bringing more commerce to needy areas. Dick DeVos also has funded several conservative agendas through Hudson Institute and Heritage Foundation. In 2006 he ran for governor against incumbent Jennifer Granholm but lost by 14 points. But in the years after this race he began prompting Michigan lawmakers to pursue a right-to-work bill, and in 2012 after following the example of Governor Walker in Wisconsin, Governor Rick Snyder signed the new bill into law in Michigan. Dick and Betsy are also two donors to the Kennedy Center‘s Institute of Art’s Management in Washington D.C.
I have always been impressed with the way former AmWay Group President Dick DeVos has handled himself in the business world, and how he has become a major part of the philanthropic community in the U.S. Although, I would expect a man who entered a form of retirement after stepping down as the President of the AmWay Group in 2002, I have been surprised to discover the founder of The Windquest Group is still keeping an active role in the business opportunities he explores through the Windquest Group.
An MLive article I recently looked over explained how Dick DeVos has just appointed a new CEO for The Stow Company, a storage and organizational company owned by DeVos through his The Windquest Group; Phil Dolci has been appointed in a process overseen by Dick DeVos to replace the retiring Frank Newman. I believe Dick DeVos has shown just how he became a successful business person by making sure the outgoing CEO of The Stow Company has been retained as a member of the board of advisors for The Windquest Group to ensure a smooth takeover.
I have followed the life and career of Dick DeVos for a number of decades after he joined the AmWay Group created by his father, Richard, after completing his education in the Michigan school system. Dick impressed me by heading out on his own early in his career and forming The Windquest Group before returning to the family business in the wake of his father asking for members of his family to return and assist in running the family business.
Reading the Wikipedia page of Dick DeVos shows just how impressive the career of the Grand Rapids, Michigan native has been and continues to be. Through The Windquest Group Dick DeVos and wife Betsy have spent much of the recent years exploring new technologies and business opportunities in the Grand Rapids region; The Windquest Group has invested in companies offering boxed water and green energy production to assist in protecting the environment of the planet. The Northwood University graduate has also looked to bring arts based events to Michigan to stimulate the economy through his close ties to the Kennedy Center for the Arts.
When people say that money does not make the man or woman, they are talking about people like Dick DeVos. His resume is quite impressive, to say the least. At one point, he ran for governor of Michigan, a place he has always called home. He wanted to make real changes for the state. That is what he has always been about: making real change. Even though he is a billionaire, it has never gone to his head or changed his beliefs. He believes in doing well for people that are less fortunate. He never looks down on them. Instead, he wants to help them up and do something good for them.
He is also an entrepreneur, which is not an easy task, as it requires a great deal of commitment to the job at hand. You have to create something and make sure you make all of the right decisions, so the company can flourish and grow in the best way possible. He was the CEO of Amway from 1993 until 2002. Now, he is focusing on helping others with the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, and he has a number of things he is working on at the moment and there is never a dull moment in his life.
From looking at their website, there is a lot to like: Dick DeVos: Home. He is a big supporter of the arts, which I think are highly important in today’s world. Artists need a platform and the chance to let their art be seen and heard. People learn a lot from the arts and sometimes they don’t get the proper attention they deserve, which is a true shame. He is also about community as well. I mentioned how he is a Michigan man and he is Michigan all the way to the core. It is always home for him and his family.
Dick also looks out for future leaders. He is a leader himself, so he is able to dole out plenty of advice to people that are looking to be leaders. The more leaders that are out there in the world, the better off the world will be in the long run, as more people will step up to the plate and do the kind of things that Dick DeVos does. He has plenty of past experiences he can fall back on when he is mentoring someone. That is why he stands head and shoulders above the rest.