Dick DeVos is a leading entrepreneur from Michigan where he currently runs The Windquest Group. The Windquest Group invests in businesses in the alternative energy, home supplies and venture capital sectors. Recently DeVos appointed Phil Dolcey to be CEO of a Windquest Group subsidiary, The Stowe Company. The Windquest Group has also acquired Coppercraft Distillery, a Holland brewing company that’s won several awards for great tasting beer. But Dick DeVos is also a large donor to philanthropic groups in the Grand Rapids area, and it’s often been a mystery as to just how much he has given. Due to his wife Betsy’s nomination to US Secretary of Education, he finally disclosed that over their lifetime their foundation has given around $139 million.
Dick DeVos actually started out at Amway Corporation, a company that his father Richard DeVos Sr. ran for a long time. Dick completed his bachelor’s degree and later his master’s and doctorates at Northwood University and after doing so served in various managerial capacities at Amway. At age 29 he became a vice president and through his leadership Amway started opening offices overseas in untapped foreign markets. Dick became CEO of the entire company when Richard DeVos Sr. stepped down in 1993 and maximized the company sales in the billions of dollars, making around $4.5 billion in his last year alone. Dick DeVos stepped down in 2002 to concentrate on growing The Windquest Group.
Dick and Betsy have been huge proponents of education reform and school of choice policies. To help underprivileged children attend private schools they started up scholarship programs through the Education Freedom Fund and Children First America. They’ve also helped charter schools get started and grow throughout the state, including founding their own at the Gerald Ford Airport known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick’s philanthropy has also been given to building up downtown Grand Rapids, including his time on the board of Grand Action Committee that saw many new buildings constructed and a more vibrant downtown as a result. He and Betsy also support many children’s hospitals and in 2006 he won the Spectrum Health Foundation’s Art of Giving award. Dick DeVos also supports artistic programs such as ArtPrize and the Kennedy Center’s art institute, a project that he gave over $20 million to complete and had renamed in his honor.
Dick and Betsy have been very politically active within the Michigan Republican Party, and Betsy even served as chairperson for several years. Dick ran in the 2006 gubernatorial race against Jennifer Granholm hoping to win on conservative economic principles, but he came up short in part because his debate performance wasn’t quite strong enough. He did help legislators pass a right-to-work law in 2012.