Dick Devos: Businessman and Philanthropist

Dick DeVos is best known as being the CEO of Amway from 1993 to 2002. His father was the founder of the company, and the fortune that the family amassed allowed it to become influential in Michigan politics. That influence was asserted in 1991 when a plan was created to build a convention center north of Grand Rapids.


One Phone Call Put an End to That Plan


DeVos believed that building the convention center could be to the detriment of Grand Rapids. He cited the negative results of a previous project that saw the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Lions leaving the city. His lobbying efforts led to the creation of a group called Grand Action, which resulted in a variety of projects focused on improving life in the city itself. His work is cited as one of the reasons why Grand Rapids has been able to slow urban sprawl and transform itself into a thriving city.


The DeVos Family Does More Than Lobby


Both Dick and his wife Betsy are known as advocates for the GOP and conservative causes in the state of Michigan. They are famous for pushing for charter schools to be treated equally to public schools in terms of receiving state funding. In fact, they shifted their focus toward implementing their goals on a national scale after facing resistance in Michigan. However, they have also donated roughly $140 million to a variety of initiatives such as a children’s hospital and an aviation school in Grand Rapids.


The Many Accomplishments of Dick DeVos


While most people know that Dick DeVos was the former CEO of Amway, it is not necessarily his greatest accomplishment. He was able to convince Southwest Airlines to add and retain nonstop flights from Grand Rapids to Orlando, Baltimore and Denver. The increased traffic led to $45 million in improvements for Gerald R. Ford International.


Part of the reason why he was successful is that he was an aviation enthusiast. It was also because he had connections in the business world that he could leverage to make a deal happen. The renovations and increased traffic to the local airport meant that his flight school could remain intact and that his father’s company would also benefit in the long-term.


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