This article was originally published in the 2017 Olin Business Magazine.
Sid Guller, BSBA ’47, worked for a year to save enough money to pay for his freshman year at Washington University. “Tuition was $125 a semester, plus books, plus an activity ticket,” Guller recalled. “I think the activity ticket was $15.” In order to stay in college, Guller worked one and sometimes two jobs during the semester and full time during the summer break. He wanted to study engineering like his older brother Harold, BSEN ’39, but soon realized he was better suited for business.
Today, Guller is chairman of St. Louis-based Essex Industries, the privately held defense and aerospace manufacturing company he founded with his brother in their parents’ basement in 1946. Their first product, an F-214 Radio Noise Filter, was the first of many aircraft controls and components that led to the company’s participation in virtually every major military and commercial aerospace program for the past 70 years.
Sid Guller recently committed $500,000 for the Bobbi Guller Memorial Scholarship he established at Olin Business School in 2011 in memory of his wife, Bobette, who died in 2010. He also pledged $300,000 through the Guller Foundation for the Guller Joint Program Scholarship benefiting students in the 3/2 program, which gives undergraduates the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA in five years.
The Guller Foundation—the charitable arm of Essex Industries—has supported the 3/2 program since 1986.
“There are many intelligent and skilled young people who don’t have the means to attend Washington University,” Guller says. “I support scholarships so they can receive an excellent education, then graduate and apply what they learned to benefit society.”
A tireless champion of Washington University, Sid Guller has served on the Olin Business School National Council since 2000 and the Olin Capital Resources Committee since 1999. He has supported multiple annual and endowed scholarships and provided funds to name two spaces at the business school, the Bobbi and Sidney Guller Lounge in the Knight Center and the Guller Classroom in Bauer Hall.
He has received Distinguished Alumni Awards from the university and Olin, which also honored him with the Dean’s Medal for exceptional dedication and service.