I have always heard the name of the DeVos family in relation to their work as the leaders of the AmWay Group created by Dick’s father Richard; Dick was given a clear grounding in the Michigan public school system, but spent much of his childhood in the AmWay Group offices.
Looking back on the career of Dick DeVos I was impressed to see he spent a decade working in various parts of the AmWay Group learning about the company from 1974 on; only after a decade at the company was Dick promoted to Vice President with responsibility for international trade. The success Dick achieved increasing the revenue from international sales for the AmWay Group is impressive to me, and saw Dick placed in control of the newly acquired Orlando Magic NBA franchise in 1991. I believe the impressive business skills Dick showed as he moved into the difficult world of the NBA prompted AmWay to call Dick back to the parent company and place him in control of the company in 1993; by the time Dick retired in 2002 annual sales for the company had reached $4.5 billion per year. After his retirement I feared Dick would disappear from public life, but his Windquest Group investment company looking for opportunities in the latest technologies and investments close to the family home in Grand rapids, Michigan.
Dick and his wife Karen began their interest in education reform in Michigan after visiting the Potter’s House Christian School and being inspired to help all families provide the best educaqtion for their children. I was particularly impressed in the way Dick decided to sacrifice much of his own spare time in the 1990s when he was at his busiest as the head of the AmWay Group to be elected to the Michigan State Board of Education. Although Dick DeVos is best known as an education reformer I have always been impressed by the work he has achieved for the arts in the U.S., including the wide range of work I have enjoyed him completing with the Kennedy Center for the Arts.