One of the biggest names in Michigan philanthropy has long been the DeVos family. Famous for having founded international direct marketing giant Amway, the DeVos family has long been at the forefront of Michigan philanthropy, giving a total of billions of dollars to charitable causes throughout the state. The family as a whole has gained a reputation not only as being extremely generous but also as being particularly scientific in the ways in which they choose to give away their vast sums of money. The DeVos family as a whole has consistently been ranked as one of the nation’s most effective philanthropists.
No one exemplifies this better than Dick DeVos, son of Rich DeVos, the billionaire cofounder of Amway. But unlike many heirs to family fortunes, Dick DeVos was always intimately involved in the family business. In fact, much of Amway’s success over the last 30 years has been directly attributable to DeVos’ visionary leadership.
Throughout the 1980s, DeVos was involved as an executive in the international sales department. His time in that job roughly corresponded to a low ebb in the Amway tide. The company was struggling to maintain domestic sales and had struggled even harder to expand into international markets. But DeVos immediately saw the huge potential in both the East Asians markets as well as those in sub-continental India and throughout Latin America. He made great efforts to expand the company’s operations into those areas.
By the time he left his role as vice president for international sales, that portion of the business had radically expanded from just a few percentage points to a significant portion of the company’s overall revenues. After a brief hiatus, when DeVos became president of the Orlando magic basketball team, he again returned to Amway. This time, he returned as the operating CEO of the entire company.
The year was 1993, and, incredibly, DeVos had the foresight to predict that most retail commerce would quickly move to the online realm. At that time, the internet was just making its first baby steps into existence. But DeVos immediately saw the potential of the new medium.
He created Quixtar, the first large-scale e-commerce site in the world, predating Amazon by a number of years. This new online business model would not only prove to be a great success for Amway but also to many other retailers across the globe, including Amazon and eBay.
These are just a few of the many accomplishments that Dick DeVos has to his credit.
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