Local businessman and Greencastle resident Garon Gembe was honored recently by the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce for “going above and beyond in service to the community.”
Gembe, president of Graphics Universal, stepped into his mother’s and father’s footsteps when he was awarded the James P. Oliver Award — an award his parents received 12 years earlier.
The award was presented to Gembe on Sept. 20 at the chamber’s annual banquet.
He said he was honored to be on the same list of award winners as his parents.
“I think that’s a reflection on them (Gary and Nancy Gembe), even more so than me,” Gembe said.
“They were always very involved in the community, and those were good lessons. I think that I learned and tried to follow in their footsteps,” he said.
Not only did he take his parents’ example in life, but he took their lead in business matters, joining the family business, Graphics Universal, in 1988.
With Gembe at the helm, the Greencastle-based business has grown and expanded its list of services to promote the local economy.
The James P. Oliver Award is given to a business person who, through his or her company, contribute “personal time and service beyond normal community service,” according to chamber documentation.
“His signature service to the community has been working with young people, specifically the basketball program for 25 years,” said Joel Fridgen, chamber director.
As a 1981 Greencastle-Antrim High School graduate and former high school basketball player, Gembe seized the chance to coach at his alma mater.
“I loved the game. It’s been a passion of mine,” he said.
In 1985, he started coaching middle school basketball, and bounced around in the basketball program before securing the varsity basketball coaching job in 2000.
In 2007, he took the Blue Devils to the PIAA Class AAA state finals.
“I enjoyed trying to make a difference,” he said. “Hopefully, I did make a difference in kids’ lives. I tried to be a positive influence for them.”
Gembe is the honorary chairman, along with Jeff Shank, of the GA-MAAX capital campaign to repay the $2.5 million bond that the school district borrowed to upgrade two fields and the six-lane track, and install new lighting at the athletic stadium.
“I think it’s important to give back to try to alleviate any tax burden that the community would face if we don’t raise the money,” Gembe said.
His community service goes above and beyond, Fridgen said.
Gembe is a member of the board of the Waynesboro (Pa.) Area YMCA, and has been a board member of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce for 15 years.
Born and raised in Greencastle, Gembe is proud of his roots.
“I love the community,” he said. “I want to see the community continue to be successful to be a thriving community. I want to see us even continue to get better. I think continuous improvement is important not only in our business, but in our community.”
Despite his successes, Gembe gives credit to his support staff — his family, friends, employees and community.
“No individual award, or very few individual awards, are truly individual awards. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by really good people. What I’ve accomplished is representative of a large group of people and they were truly responsible for this award,” he said.
Gembe and his wife, Julie, have been married for 25 years. They have three sons, Jaren, 23, Jordan, 22, and Jerrick, 20.
Past Oliver winners
Past recipients of the James P. Oliver Award:
1992 — James P. Oliver (posthumous)
1993 — Shirley Stout
1994 — John Benchoff
1995 — Dr. Robert Pascale
1996 — Dr. Evon Barvinchack
1997 — Robert “Red” Pensinger
1998 — Georgia King
1999 — Terry Musselman
2000 — Gary and Nancy Gembe
2001 — Jeff Shank
2002 — Wayne and Sharon Baumbaugh
2003 — Frank Mowen
2004 — no recipient
2005 — Harold and Jean Zimmerman
2006 — Richard Biesecker
2007 — Tom Fox
2008 — Bob Crunkleton
2009 — Russ and Dody Clever
2010 — Marty Boscolo
2011 — Barry Kline