The Early Life and Career Journey of Dick DeVos
Dick DeVos is a son of Richard DeVos, a renowned entrepreneur based in Michigan. As a child, DeVos was involved in the operations of the family business, Amway. DeVos and his brother Doug would serve as mini-hosts responsible for greeting attendees of Amway annual convention. Additionally, they would help in clearing tables during annual conference and ferry guests to play tennis. With time, DeVos would give product demonstration. In 2006, he contested for Michigan’s governorship on a Republican ticket but was defeated by the incumbent Democrat, Jennifer Granholm.
Education and Career
Dick DeVos attended Northwood University to pursue a degree in Business Administration. Later on, he joined the Wharton Schools and the Harvard Business School for further studies in Business Administration. Throughout his career, DeVos has earned honorary doctorates from Northwood University and Central Michigan University. He also holds a distinguished alumni recognition from the University of Northwood.
DeVos started his career in 1974 at Amway. Here, he held different positions in sales, marketing, finance, research and development, and manufacturing departments. In 1984, he was appointed as Amway’s vice president responsible for the company’s functions in 18 countries. Under Dick DeVos’ tenure, Amway expanded its addressable market by more than double. Furthermore, the company’s foreign sales surpassed domestic sales for the first time in its history. When DeVos became the vice president of Amway, the company’s international sales accounted for about 5% of the overall sales. Within six years, foreign sales had grown to 50% of annual sales.
On June 2nd, 2005, DeVos announced his candidacy for the post of Michigan’s governor. At this point, DeVos was considered as the wealthiest man to run for Michigan’s governorship on the Republican ticket. As of October 27th, 2006, DeVos had spent $35 million in his campaign. However, he lost to the incumbent Democrat, Jennifer Granholm by a slight margin. Political analysts attribute his loss to his fist performance during a televised debate with Jennifer Granholm.
Besides business and politics, Dick DeVos is an active philanthropist. Through his charitable organization, Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, DeVos donates thousands of dollars to artistic, educational, community, religious, and civic organization throughout the United States. Some of its grantees include Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Potter’s House, Education Freedom Fund, American Education Council, and ArtPrize Grand Rapids. In the fall of 2010, he opened the nation’s first aviation charter high school, the West Michigan Aviation Academy to extend his philanthropic efforts.