Firmly convinced that small business is the foundation of the U.S. economy, Sam Seltzer has been committed to personal enterprise throughout his life. In 1960, he founded Allison Corporation, a company that manufactures and sells a wide variety of automobile accessories with facilities in East Asia, Europe, and the United States. Allison was one of the first American companies to do business in Mainland China.
By the early 1980s, Sam came to recognize the need for undergraduate education in business skills, specifically for those young people wishing to join family enterprises or for those willing to make the commitment and to take the risks to start their own businesses. Thus, he became the founding chairman of Cornell PEP (Personal Enterprise Program); a program which began with one course in Business Planning, quickly grew to over 35 courses, mostly at the undergraduate level, and eventually merged into Entrepreneurship@Cornell (Entrepreneurship@Cornell). Continuing to serve on the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Advisory council, Sam Seltzer has provided consistent leadership and financial support for this program.
Mr. Seltzer’s involvement in business has not been limited to Allison. In 1954, he started one of the first manufacturing operations to be set up under the Puerto Rican government’s Operation Boot Strap. He was founder and an officer of the Commonwealth Manufacturers Association of Puerto Rico and the Plastic Manufacturers Association of Puerto Rico. The U.S. and Puerto Rican governments appointed him to serve on their respective committees to determine minimum wages for the island. From 1975-92, Sam Seltzer was also an officer and trustee of the Pension Fund of the United Furniture and Bedding Workers Union.
At Cornell, Sam Seltzer’s contributions have been extensive and varied. A life member of the University council, he is also a member of the Major Gifts committee. In the past, Mr. Seltzer served on the Trustee’s Proxy Advisory Committee on the Executive committee of the Cornell Alumni Association and was president of the Federation of Cornell Clubs. He helped form the Cornell Club of Hong Kong. Sam Seltzer’s great commitment to Cornell has been recognized when he was recently appointed Presidential Councilor.
In 1983, Mr. Seltzer established the Moses and Loulu Seltzer Endowment Fund in honor of his parents. Each year SF sponsors two or three events on campus which bring leaders in personal enterprise to speak to and meet with students. He supports the Lam Family Research Awards, the Frank & Rosa Rhodes Scholarship, the Medical College Fund, and the Judaica Collection, as well as other programs on campus.