Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Richard “Dick” DeVos knows the value of hard work. It’s a trait that was instilled in him from the time he was a very young child. DeVos says his father, businessman and Amway co-found Richard DeVos Sr. instilled the importance of maintaining a strong work ethic. “Nothing is given to you on a silver platter,” DeVos insists. He says people often assume because he was born into a wealthy family that everything came easy. There was no laying around all day in the DeVos family. “As a child, when clients would come to the house, we all had a job. Whether is was serving refreshments, greeting clients or helping set up meetings,” said DeVos.
DeVos took an official position with his father’s company right out of college. He says he moved around to a number of departments to learn all aspects of the business. Within five years, he was the head of the marketing division. By 1989, he was one of Amway’s vice presidents. When DeVos was named company CEO, Amway saw tremendous growth with profits increasing by more than 700%. The company also expanded into new territories abroad.
In 1992, the DeVos family purchased the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team. DeVos stepped into the role as general manager. He remained in that position until 2005. In 2010, DeVos started the privately owned Windquest Group. The company holds interest in alternative fuels, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and other technologies.
DeVos and his wife, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, run a number of charitable organizations within the state of Michigan. They are strong proponents of the voucher system and charter schools. The DeVos charity has donated millions to a number of educational initiatives. DeVos also served on the Michigan State Board of Education. He says he will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that every child in the state has access to a good education.
In 2006, DeVos stepped into the political arena. He ran unsuccessfully to unseat incumbent Gov. Jennifer Granholm. DeVos ran on a platform of education and jobs. Although he narrowed the lead to 4 points a few weeks before the election, he eventually lost by 8 points.