The Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education


About Gus A. Stavros

Gus Stavros is a true portrait in integrity, business accomplishment and philanthropy. It is with great pride that he and his name are associated with the USF Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education.

Education

From a very early age growing up in New Jersey, Gus Stavros placed a high value on education. Being of Greek ancestry, Gus would attend regular public school during the day and then attend “Greek” school for several hours in the afternoon and also on weekends. Encouraged by one of his high school teachers to complete a scholarship application form, Gus took a break from selling war bonds and completed the application. He and the teacher were thrilled to learn that he had received a scholarship to Columbia University in 1942.

Because of WWII, Gus decided to interrupt his education at Columbia and enlist in the army. After the war, Gus attended the University of Florida where he received a Certificate in Basic Engineering. He subsequently returned to Columbia University and in received a BA Degree.

Because his passion for supporting education is so well known and appreciated, Gus has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Florida, Florida State University and Weber International.

Military Service

When Gus enlisted in the military in 1943, he served in General Patton’s 3rd Army, 94th Infantry Division. A veteran of several major battles, Gus was seriously wounded during the war and received 3 Battle Stars, The Purple Heart and the Bronze Medal. Gus was nearly killed when his unit came under enemy attack and as a consequence, he has not been able to use his left arm since that day in 1945. The incident that nearly cost Gus his life gives us an insight into the tremendous personal generosity of this great patriot. Gus volunteered to take a fellow soldier’s place in guarding German POWs when the attack occurred and Gus was seriously injured.

After more than eight months in a military hospital, Gus was told by the army doctor, “Son, your worries are over. The U .S. Government will take care of you for the rest of your life.” True to his nature, Gus rejected this notion and has always believed that God had spared him so that he could accomplish great things in his life.

Business

Although Gus had several jobs after he left Columbia University, his dream was to return to sunny Florida with his beautiful bride Frances and their young children so that he could pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. His passion for starting his own business was very strong and he remembered Florida as the land of opportunities. Although his entrepreneurial passion was strong, Gus needed to provide for his family. He did so by being a very successful Purchasing Agent for a mattress company. His success in this role quickly resulted in he being offered a promotion that came with a substantial salary increase. The only problem was that Gus would have to move his family to Cleveland in order to accept the promotion. After consulting with Frances, Gus promptly turned down the offer, resigned from the company and in 1960, moved his family to St. Petersburg to pursue his dream of staring his own business.

Although Gus quickly found a job in his new home town, after work and on weekends, he, Frances and their three children, Mark, Ellen and Paul would spend their time building their business, a business forms enterprise.

With two partners, Gus established Better Business Forms, Inc. in 1960. Taking advantage of the great need businesses had for all types of forms, Better Business Forms took off and soon Gus bought out his partners and became the largest business forms manufacturer in the Southeast. As a member of the Printing Industry of America (PIA), Better Business Systems because recognized as a premier business forms company with approximately 400 employees. And Gus’s leadership did not go unnoticed by his colleagues in the printing industry. In 1980, Gus was elected President and Chairman of the Board of the International Business Forms Industries Association. This is an organization of more than 500 companies in 40 countries.

In 1984, Better Business Systems, Inc. merged with Florida Progress and Gus was elected Group Vice President. In 1989, Gus was elected Senior Vice President of Community Relations for Florida Progress Corporation and retained the title of Chairman of the Board of Better Business Systems, Inc. On September 28, 1989, Gus Stavros completed his five year management contract with Florida Progress Corporation and Better Business Systems, Inc.

Civic Contributions

The concept of “giving back” to the community has always been very important to Gus Stavros. From his days as a youth in New Jersey selling military bonds to his outstanding service in his home community of Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida, Gus Stavros has distinguished himself as an outstanding citizen. Included in his numerous examples of 0.community service are: President, Performing Arts Center and Theater, Inc; Board of Directors, Florida Orchestra; Governor, Florida Board of Governors; Chairman, USF Stavros Center Advocacy Board; President, Suncoast Chamber of Commerce; Board of Directors, Salvador Dali Museum; President, Pinellas Education Foundation; Mr. Clearwater; Chairman, Florida Council on Economic Education; Chairman, Florida Foundation for Excellence in Education; University of South Florida Presidential Search Advisory Committee and many, many more.

Philanthropy

A key cornerstone of Gus Stavros’s philosophy of community involvement is his belief in philanthropy. He frequently cites the Greek translation of the word, “philan thropy” as “lover of mankind.” This is at the very heart of Gus’ motivation in providing financial resources to bring about positive results in all areas of human endeavor. His generosity can be seen in education, the arts, civic projects, and many other worthwhile endeavors. He has provide significant funding for the Stavros Center at USF, the Stavros Center at FSU, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Eckerd College, the Pinellas Education Foundation, Stavros Institute and many more, and the United Way, the Florida Council on Economic Education, and numerous organizations.

Gus Stavros is a true portrait in integrity, business accomplishment and philanthropy. It is with great pride that he and his name are associated with the USF Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education.