Peter Mueller Schluter of Little Silver, born May 24, 1933, in Greenwich, Connecticut, died peacefully at home in Little Silver June 22, surrounded by loving family mem- bers. He had suffered briefly from Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
A brilliant entrepreneur, Peter graduated in 1951 from Phillips Exeter Academy and in 1956 from Cornell University, where he majored in mechanical engineering. He was also a member of the crew team and Kappa Sigma fraternity.
He began his career by working as a rocket scientist and his efforts on Thiokol’s Minuteman Missile earned him various patents, one of which was on the space shuttle. Creating innovative technology was not foreign to Peter, whose maternal great-grandfather, Hieronymous Mueller, invented the plumbing joint that made fire hydrants possible. Mueller fire hydrants, with their distinctive caps, are still in wide use today. Hieronymous also produced the Mueller Benz, which William Jennings Bryan used in his 1896 presidential campaign.
After Thiokol, Peter went to work for a consulting firm that focused on business development in Africa. He volunteered to spend about six months a year in Africa, learning the geography, cultures and business opportunities. In his view, a young greenhorn could take on such a task since no one else in the company knew much more about Africa than he did.
In time, Peter had an opportunity to buy the consulting firm, which he later sold successfully. Although his future employment did not concern Africa, the insight he gained through these experiences helped to broaden his worldview and to shape the international scope that he brought to his new company.
In the mid-1970s, Peter bought into Buck Engineering (later renamed Lab-Volt) in Wall Township. At the time, the U.S. was deeply involved in the space race inspired by the launch of Sputnik; Peter harnessed the wave of enthusiasm for technological innovation at the time and used the momentum to build the company into a worldwide leader in the field. Over time, he modified its focus to emphasize technology education and, eventually, took the company private.
Peter’s major innovations included pursuing countrywide upgrades for technology globally. He was convinced that it was easier and more cost efficient to persuade an entire country to invest heavily in technology education than to pursue many separate Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Guided by this approach, he travelled extensively to establish and strengthen ties between Lab-Volt and ministries of education across the world.
Moreover, Lab-Volt marketing staff worked closely with field representatives of various international technology groups to implement and upgrade training programs. These representatives benefited from Peter’s heavy investment in sales and marketing; he offered contracts that allowed top salesmen to earn more than the very top executives of the company. Indeed, for Peter, the importance of taking care of his employees and improving education eclipsed a desire for personal profit.
Finally, he moved manufacturing to Canada. Able to characterize his company as Canadian, he gained the support of the Canadian Ministry of Education and managed to sell his products in many different countries, including those that may have otherwise been hesitant to work with Americans.
Lab-Volt products were recognized internationally for their innovation and excellence, which was reflected by the numerous gold and silver awards they received from World Didact, the international professional organization. As Lab-Volt grew in stature and power, Peter was elected to various boards, including vice president and president-elect of World Didact.
His accomplishments were further honored by such awards as the Golden Osprey Outstanding Business Award in 1995. Peter sold Lab-Volt to Festo Didactic in 2014.
Peter was the son of Frederick E. and Charlotte M. Schluter. He grew up in Princeton on a family dairy farm that became the home of the Educational Testing Service.
Peter is survived by his wife, Christine Moon Schluter; his daughters Jane Schluter, Charlotte Schluter Bashforth (Paul) and Anne Schluter (Sasha Jonas); stepdaughters Heather Van Ness (Sam Won) and Hilary Westdijk (Wibo); and grandchildren Sotirios and Panayiotis Amitsis, Lucy and Tom Bashforth, Corinna and Cecilia Won and Jack and Joop Westdijk.
He is also survived by his brother Bill Schluter (Nancy), his ex-wife Jacquelin Turbidy and numerous nephews and nieces.
He was predeceased by his parents and his brothers, John and Frederick Schluter.
In lieu of gifts, the family requests that donations in Peter’s name be made to Visiting Nurse Association Health Group Hospice, c/o Foundation Office, 23 Main St., Suite D1, Holmdel, NJ 07733.
Services are private under the direction of the Wilson Apple Funeral Home. Condolences may be made to wilsonapple.com, 609-737-1498, or 2560 Pennington Road, Pennington, NJ 08534.
If you liked this story, you’ll love our newspaper. Click here to subscribe