Few people will ever know what it’s like to be born into a family with a staggering net worth. It’s easy to dismiss those who are born into such circumstances as having had a silver spoon placed in their mouths, thus, not capable of genuine accomplishment in their own right. This is especially true when those children of the incredibly wealthy go to work for the family company. It’s difficult to ascribe to skill accomplishments that could only have been realized given that certain set of exalted preconditions to which scions of extreme privilege are subject and from which those less fortunate are excluded. Such situations make judging on the pure merits of accomplishment much more difficult. The biases of any observer who was always forced to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps nag at the psyche while observing the jet-setting life of children whose financial well-being could never have been in peril for a day in their lives.
And it’s likely that Dick DeVos never would have gone hungry had his entrepreneurial reach exceeded his grasp. Nor would he have faced the prospect of standing in line at a soup kitchen no matter how horrible a decision he made. But still, we’re forced to acknowledge that this is a man who, by all accounts, exceeded his father in good done for his family’s company. Some would argue that without Dick DeVos, Amway, the family business, may have ended up dissolved in bankruptcy court.
When Dick DeVos first took the helm as CEO in 1985, the company was doing virtually all of its business within the borders of the United States and was embroiled in multiple lawsuits. By the time he finally stepped down in 2002, Amway had become the largest direct-marketing firm in the world and did the vast majority of its business in international territory. What’s more, DeVos had brought the company into the 21st century through the new North American internet-based sales subsidiary called Quixtar. Quixtar was highly revolutionary for its time, fulfilling many of the functions that Amazon would become world famous for a decade later. In fact, Quixtar may have been the first consumer retail company to have 100% of its ordering, shipping and logistics handled through an internet-based platform.
Throughout his long business career, Dick DeVos added countless billions in value to Amway’s business and can be credited with saving it from an unpalatable fate. Despite his inherited standing, he deserves acknowledgement as a tycoon in his own right.