J.C. Huizenga

Manufacturer, Educational Reformer, Entrepreneur

Dutch American Heritage Award 2006 Recipient

J. C. Huizenga is chairman of the Huizenga Manufacturing Group, which owns and operates six successful companies that create a variety of interesting products. But J.C. has applied that same entrepreneurial spirit to carve out a place in history as an educational reformer.

J.C.’s entrepreneurial penchant appears to run in the family. His grandfather, Harm Sierts Huizenga, emigrated from the Netherlands in 1893 and settled in Chicago, where he saw the need for a company to pick up the City’s trash and dispose of it. Harm’s company grew and thrived as did his family of four sons and one daughter.

Pete (Petro), Harm’s third son, married Elizabeth Bovenkerk whose parents had also emigrated from the Netherlands to Chicago. J.C. is the youngest of their five children.

While the family business continued to prosper, J.C. chose to study economics at Hope college in Holland, Michican. By 1971, the family business had joined forces with his cousin H. Wayne Huizenga’s business, creating the world’s largest trash collection and and disposal company, Waste Management, Inc.

After earning his MBA at Michigan State University, J.C. married fellow Hope alum Laura Maatman and settled in West Michigan. The couple had a son David, and J.C. continued togrow his manufacturing enterprises which range from technology for industrial automation to parts for automobile instrumentation.

Translating his desire to reform education into action, in 1995 J.C. founded National Heritage Academies (NHA). After four consecutive years on Inc. magazine’s list of the “ 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies”, NHA has grown to a network of 53 charter schools serving 30,000 students in five states. Independent testing shows that for every year they spend in the system, NHA students make about 1.3 years of academic progress compared with the national average.

J.C. gives generously of his time and resources to a wide variety of organizations within his own community, his state and around the world. He has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Education Industry Association’s Boyle Award and many others.

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