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A history of entrepreneurship

Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel were two friends who shared a similar goal and ambition: they wanted more out of life for themselves, their families, and their friends. In 1959—after numerous ventures into entrepreneurship—they started a new business together in the basements of their homes. They built Amway.

Amway has become the No. 1 direct selling company in the world*. Built on the belief that business ownership improves lives through personal achievement and the opportunity to earn income, the heritage of Amway includes a rich history of entrepreneurship and helping others succeed.

Vintage photo of Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel in 1952. Jay is sitting on top of the desk while recording a taped message while Rich is seated in a chair next to him.
Vintage photo of Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel posing behind a desk and looking at blueprints.
Heritage image of Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel with their first full-time employee Kay Evans

Rich and Jay

The founders of Amway, Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel, first became friends in high school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They had no way of knowing that their individual lives would become forever entwined, or that their combined work would change the landscape of business for good.

A headshot of Rich DeVos from 1964
Rich DeVos

Rich DeVos was born in 1926 outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, in a small town called Ada. He attended Grand Rapids Christian High School, where he met a young man named Jay Van Andel. Rich went on to attend Calvin College, and later served in the United States Army Air Force from 1944 to 1946.

In 1959, Rich co-founded Amway Corp with his good friend and business partner, Jay Van Andel.

Rich and his wife, Helen, became passionately involved in philanthropy in their hometown of Grand Rapids. Rich and Helen’s generosity helped create many institutions, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, the DeVos Communications Center at Calvin College, the DeVos Campus of Grand Valley State University, and the DeVos Place Convention Center and Concert Hall. Rich was also the owner and chairman of the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic, and has owned numerous other sports franchises.

Rich passed away on September 6, 2018.

His son, Doug, Co-Chairs the Amway BOD.

“We were just two guys from Ada, Michigan, USA, who wanted to have a business of our own.”

Historical photo of Jay Van Andel in the office in the 1970s
Jay Van Andel

Jay Van Andel was born in 1924 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended Grand Rapids Christian High School, where he met a young man named Rich DeVos. He attended Calvin College and Pratt Business School in Kansas, and later served as a United States Army Air Force officer from 1942 to 1945.

In 1959, Jay co-founded Amway Corp with his good friend and business partner, Rich DeVos.

As a lifelong advocate of free enterprise, Jay served as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from 1979 to 1980. He was a strong supporter of community projects in economic development, health care, education, and the arts. He and his wife, Betty, founded the Van Andel Institute for Education and Medical Research in his hometown of Grand Rapids. Jay and Betty’s generosity also helped create the Van Andel Arena and the Van Andel Museum Center for the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Jay passed away on December 7, 2004.

His son, Steve, Co-Chairs the Amway BOD.

“Amway gets people into a new life of excitement, promise, profit, and hope.”

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