Oral history interview with Whitson Sadler

  • 2007-Jun-19

Whitson Sadler begins his interview with a description of his family history, which he traces back to an English missionary in the 1600s. Born in Bristol, Tennessee, Sadler was the middle son of two formally trained schoolteachers. As a young boy, Sadler's father accepted a position as a ticket agent at American Airlines, which caused the family to move several times during Sadler's formative years. Sadler attended high school in Long Island, followed by a year of post-graduate prep school in New Hampshire at The New Hampton School. After this post-graduate year, Sadler enrolled at the Sewanee, the University of the South where he excelled in mathematics; this eventually led him to pursue a degree in economics. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Sadler enlisted in the US Navy, spending most of his four-year service in Washington, DC and Norfolk, Virginia.

Following his time in the Navy, Sadler attended Harvard Business School. Upon graduating, Sadler was offered a position at Lazard Frères & Co. , where he worked first as an associate and then as a general partner, for seven years. It was during this time that Sadler first began to work with Solvay S. A. , which was expanding its business to the United States. After working on the Soltex Polymer Corporation board, Sadler became more familiar with the company and in 1977, left Lazard Frères & Co. to become vice chairman and, after a year, CEO of Solvay America, Inc. Over the next two decades, Sadler worked to expand the depth and breadth of Solvay's various product lines, and became an important member of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, helping to develop the Responsible Care program. Solvay America prospered under his leadership, reaching over 25 percent of Solvay's overall sales by the time of his retirement. Sadler concludes his interview with a discussion of current politics and his activities since retirement.

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Available upon request are 1 PDF transcript and 3 audio recording files.

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