Growing Greenly: Our FIRST Noble Knights

Knoble Knights: THE GREENLYS
Lifetime Circle and Planned Gifts

  • Greenly Fitness Center Creation (2015) and expansion (2022)
  • Health Sciences Classroom
  • Scholarship Fund
  • Cross Country/Track Sponsor
  • Athletic Transportation Program Sponsor
Duane & Sue Greenly
Duane & Sue Greenly

Duane and Sue (Basar) Greenly have the warm familiarity and natural banter that grows out of more than 50 years of marriage. No one would imagine that these down-to-earth, garden-loving grandparents have been breaking new ground across so many industries and charities since they first met at a dance in the early ‘70s at Bloomsburg University.

More than half a century ago, Sue’s dormmate developed an eye for Duane’s friend. That relationship never took root, but it had a happy offshoot: Duane and Sue’s partnership blossomed like the color- drenched gardens they helped plant at the Ames Community Gardens in Shiremanstown and the Penn-Cumberland Garden Club, where they spend quality time.

Together, they explain with humility how they are building their “dash.”

Duane’s “dash“ talk was inspired by a poem by Linda Ellis, sent to him by a friend. Your “dash,” he explained, represents the sum of your time here on earth—that miniature mark of punctuation on your headstone that encapsulates everything from the year of your birth to the time of your death. It has become a common refrain on the Summerdale campus, after Duane issued a call to action at the President’s Reception on June 22. As the first to donate $100,000 to the newly formed Noble Knights Society, they have put many exclamation points on their dash.

Ater an enormously successful career in manufacturing and business turnarounds, Duane still has the energy of the long-distance runner that he is. Technically “retired,” he notes it’s more accurate to say, “‘I don’t work for anybody anymore.’’

Voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school, where he was also a tennis player and track stand-out, his classmates clearly had great foresight.

Sue said, even in “retirement,” he is often in the home office, answering emails until late at night.

He is not one to sleep in, binge-watch Netflix, or boast about this business success. In fact, he said, if he were not at the Silver Spring Diner by WalMart, drinking Diet Coke and having breakfast with Sue, he predicted he would have been mowing the grass on his four properties, which include townhomes and professional office buildings.

He is someone who has the Midas touch, quietly turning every company he worked for into solid gold, growing earnings and market share as vibrantly as his and Sue’s crimson and violet flowers.

A chemistry major and former temporary adjunct professor of chemistry, Duane earned several patents for garden tools and snow shovels, and developed innovative solutions reflected in products that span everything from gardening spades, disposable diapers and doors to shoe liners, boat fabric, and vibration-resistant rubber mounts.

They thought more of others than themselves throughout their journey up the ladder of so many major companies.

“You can give time, talent or treasure,” Greenly said. “I always gave time and talent; now I can add treasure.”

He and Sue started the Greenly Foundation in 2004- 2005, prioritizing local causes and higher education, including Central Penn College.

His involvement with Central Penn began about 15 years ago, when then-President Todd Milano asked him to attend an event and later to serve on the President’s Council.

As someone who religiously wore a suit and tie to work, Greenly embraced the college’s then buttoned- down dress code, and the type of students Central Penn was cultivating.

His quiet leadership, inventive brain, and trouble- shooting abilities led to growing market share for companies that became household names, such as Rubbermaid, Ames True Temper, and Kimberly Clark.

In one of his greatest and most recent turnaround triumphs, he helped Ames and True Temper play nice after Ames bought its longtime rival in 1999. Greenly became chief operating officer and then in 2008, president and CEO. His Ames True Temper Academy taught business principles that he still preaches today –and may someday include in a book.

When employees at the company would ask how they could get selected for the prestigious Academy, he would simply reply, “Just do your job.”

A venture capital firm bought the company for $160 million and sold it to another firm at more than twice the original price. And in September 2010, the company was sold once again, this time to another manufacturing conglomerate, for a whopping $542 million.

At that time, Greenly encouraged the private equity firm to donate $100,000 for a community garden he created on a field adjacent to the Camp Hill headquarters—a project that won “PA Horticultural Project of the Year.” The Greenlys’ involvement and generosity have also contributed to a downtown renaissance in Mechanicsburg.

Sue describes her husband as focused and goal- oriented. Proof-positive lies in his lifetime mission to run 25,000 miles – equivalent to the circumference of the earth, which amounts to about three miles a day, for 25 years. Sue noted they both came from blue-collar families and were always laser-focused on an honest day’s work.

As a local boy made good, Bloomsburg University also receives much of the Greenly largesse. When the five-story Greenly Center at BU was dedicated in 2015, each floor was full of students, alumni, and other Greenly Family fans. Duane spoke to the crowds, joking that he always wanted his name in marble. He then added that he was thrilled it was not on his tombstone. The building echoed with laughter.

As the signature poem says, “It matters not how much we own, The cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.”

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