CMF Editorial Correspondent
Doug DeCamp is a quiet, reserved man who carefully studies any problem or issue before him and likes to do his homework before making an important decision. His wife, Margaret, has spent a lifetime in service to others, whether serving extensively in different roles within her church or on mission trips to help those less fortunate.
Doug was born and grew up in Nashville, Michigan. Margaret came to Nashville in 1956, met Doug, married in 1957 and spent the next 57 years together in Barry County working through all the ups and downs life had to offer. Although there wasn’t a lot of money growing up or in the early years, the couple embraced the belief that giving and giving back was important.
Following several decades of owning and running a successful business in Hastings, it comes as no surprise that the DeCamps helped set up - and are financial supporters of - the Barry Community Foundation in Hastings, where they have created an endowed fund.
Today, they are involved in expanding their philanthropy through their very own foundation. They are also among the Council of Michigan Foundations’ newest members.
“We set up the Douglas and Margaret DeCamp Foundation in 2007, but didn’t start funding it until 2010. We wanted to take our time and do it right and make sure it is being done the right way,” says Doug.
“Approximately 20 years ago we, along with others, helped set up the Barry Community Foundation, an organization that has helped a lot of people and spearheaded positive growth in our community,” he says. “That gave me the idea of running our own family foundation.”
As part of their family foundation start-up effort, the DeCamps reached out and tapped the services of another stalwart Michigan philanthropic leader – Milt Rowher, former president of the Frey Foundation, to advise them as they moved forward.
“Milt, along with two of my company board members, has been great in helping us make our foundation the type of organization we want it to be,” notes Doug.
Margaret laughs that she would like to see things move just a tad bit faster for their foundation, “but Doug likes to take his time. Basically this is Doug’s dream. We’ve reached that point in life where our sons are running the company and so he has more time. “And he is having a lot of fun just basically giving away money!”
Helping their Barry County community grow and early childhood education are the two main mission focuses of their fledgling foundation, although they may look at other funding opportunities in the years ahead, the couple says.
“Not being able to go to college, we realize how important it is to learn and get children educated at a very young age,” says Doug. “That’s what really allows them to do whatever they want to.”
Margaret agrees. “We are very much behind getting the trades back into our local community. We want our high school students who choose that path to be able to be trained and walk out of high school right into a trade profession.”
Doug notes some of their donations so far have gone into developing welding and shop programs at the local high school. Margaret excitedly chimes in that they are also working on helping set up a culinary school in a former church building that now houses the Barry Community Foundation (BCF) and other nonprofit organizations.
“Bonnie Hildreth (BCF president/CEO) has been working with Kellogg Community College to help set that culinary program up,” she says.
Coincidentally, it was through Doug’s work – along with other committed local residents with the assistance of the BCF - that sparked the purchase of the DeCamps’ former church to be used as a nonprofit building base for the area.
“That church was 155 years old and we needed more room, so we sold it to BCF (for the nonprofit use) and built ourselves a new church,” says Doug.
Doug DeCamp founded FlexFab, a company that has become a global leader in the manufacture of high performance silicone and other advanced polymer products with facilities in the United States, Europe, South America and China. He has been a served on the Hastings City Bank Board of Directors for 27 years, on the Hastings Manufacturing board for 17 years, and the Thornapple Foundation Board (which jump-started the Barry Community Foundation). He has been a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers for over 35 years, served on the YMCA board and the First Presbyterian Church as a deacon, elder and trustee.
Margaret has been active in the life of Hastings, particularly in the First Presbyterian Church, serving as deacon, elder, teaching Sunday school and Bible school, working on youth mission trips and serving on mission trips to Third World countries. She served on the YMCA board, been active in the Pennock Hospital gift shop guild. The DeCamps have five children: three sons and two daughters.