The Story of Greenlee Partners
Greenlee Partners began with an agreement between friends to build a better mousetrap, and evolved over the years with that founding principle intact. We dug through the archives to uncover the history of Greenlee's success.
The Meeting, a Windowless Room and a Foray into Personal Computing
Bill Greenlee and Stan Rapp were no strangers to each other or the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Working in various political and governmental capacities for the Pennsylvania State Senate in the late 1970's, the two eventually were encouraged by their mutual friend Al Bush (then Executive Director of the PA Senate President Pro Tempore) to join forces and help John Shumaker get elected to the PA Senate in 1979.
The friendship grew, and in 1985, Bill and Stan were collaborating on a state-wide database initiative in Harrisburg, PA when they jokingly discovered that their current jobs simply did not allow enough time for golf. They also shared a great deal of disdain for the prevalent government affairs model in Harrisburg that relied heavily on law firms and their draconian billing procedures to service clients. They knew there was a better way. They knew that they could service clients better, faster and more cheaply than the would-be competition.
Bill and Stan officially joined forces and attacked the status quo in Harrisburg. They agreed to charge clients a reasonable and appealing "flat-fee" monthly retainer, handshakes were exchanged, and Greenlee Associates was born. With a staff of four professionals, Greenlee Associates got its first big break, signing a contract to lobby for State Farm Insurance, a client we still have the privilege of serving to this day.
The firm's first home was a windowless office sub-lease in a local law firm. Over the next 25 years, the firm moved three more times: once to the corner of Second and State Street, once to an office on Fourth Street, and finally to our current location at 230 State Street.
Bill and Stan worked with various clients while also pioneering various technological breakthroughs. With his personal savings, Stan purchased one of the very first computers available to the market, while Bill became a master of the IBM 'Selectric' Mag-Card Typewriter. In the early 1990's this affinity for technology led them to create Keystone Strategies, which began as an early crack at the blossoming computer industry and instead evolved into the company you know today as a bipartisan political consultancy specializing in compliance, campaign finance, database systems and campaign management.
In its infancy, Greenlee Associates was a simple organization. Stan worked the 'ground game' and kept tabs on the politics. Bill stayed locked in his office armed with his creativity, Diet Coke and a pack of cigarettes to conjure 100 new ideas and business strategies for the firm. In 1993, Bill created Harrisburg: ONLINE, a daily newsletter still in publication today.
Harrisburg: ONLINE began as a daily political newsletter seasoned with Bill's unique brand of political satire.
Bill and Stan sacrificed a great deal to keep the firm operational, and poured their energy into attracting like-minded professionals with a penchant for exceptional client service and a love of the legislative process.
Greenlee Associates became a 'serious firm' after three completely unrelated occurrences: the addition of a young legislative strategist Matt Steck to the staff (not as a partner just yet); the firm's client base grew by word of mouth to a healthy size; and the 1994 elections put friends of the firm in office in record numbers. Greenlee Associates was officially on the map.
Greenlee Associates Becomes Greenlee Partners, Doesn’t Sleep Enough
In the spring of 2000, the firm made the first of two expansions into other parts of the Commonwealth, opening a satellite office in Philadelphia.
In 2000, Bill Greenlee retired and Greenlee Associates became Greenlee Partners when Matt Steck and John McNichol joined Stan Rapp to keep the vision alive. Bill Greenlee continued to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Harrisburg: ONLINE until the day he died on September 30, 2010. That same year, Greenlee Partners launched Greenlee Procurement to serve clients seeking to do business with state and local government. Since then, Greenlee Procurement has assisted Fortune 500 companies as well as small and emerging startups navigate the complex channels and processes of procuring business from the government.
In 2003, Greenlee Partners opened yet another satellite office — this time in Pittsburgh — to better serve our clients' needs and bolster the firm's political presence in Western Pennsylvania.
Even Bill Greenlee's grand imagination could never have envisioned how his dream would develop. Greenlee Partners and its predecessor company Greenlee Associates have played a role in virtually every major public policy issue affecting the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since their inception. The vision of our founders to always keep our clients' needs first remains foremost in our hearts and minds.
The Present Day and Beyond
At the risk of abandoning modesty, Greenlee Partners has a lot to be proud of. It is also one of the most unique places to work in the world. Above all, the spirit of our founders and the businesses they have represented over the years is what resonates the most. Greenlee Partners has always been a place to work where our employees could see the American dream happen right before their eyes, from a simple seed of an idea all the way to the company boardroom and beyond. And it doesn't stop at Greenlee, either! Our firm is also proud of our alumni and their accomplishments and does a tremendous job keeping in touch on their exploits and endeavors in the business and political world.