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Tri-State--Reinvent and Refocus

September 2000
Tri-State may have grown with technology, but Frank Campagna remains at eye level with his customers.


BY ERIK CAGLE


Since you are reading this, it can be assumed that you are, in one form or another, a partner in the large chain of worldwide communications. You are a communications provider, directly or indirectly, through the printed or electronic word. Your livelihood depends upon the need for people to relay information, and the ways and means of communication are evolving, changing, taking shape and, in some cases, vanishing quicker than the time it takes to burn a CD.

Consider Tri-State Associated Services of Kingston, NY, currently operating three divisions: Tri-State Copy Land, Tri-State Litho and Tri-State Services. All three are branches of the second-generation, family owned business led by Frank Campagna, the company president.

Tri-State is more than a survivor, for that would indicate it has escaped the clutches of obsolescence. No, Tri-State is a classical example of the modern communications provider—a national trade printer, which specializes in work for commercial printers and print brokers, but much, much more. Now the company that started out making copies with Xerox reproduction machines is a printer of books for commercial accounts, independent publishers and self-publishers; a commercial printer and copy center for the trade; a Website designer; and a trade show coordinator, promoter and marketer. Tri-State bridged the communications gulf by introducing commercial printers, brokers and direct clients to its related services and zipping up all its needs as a single-source supplier.

"What we realized," stresses Campagna, who seems to make it his challenge to ease the burden of the overwhelmed customer, "is printing is a means of communication. And whether we're providing copying services or producing a book, it's a way of helping our clients communicate. It made us realize that we needed to set up separate divisions. That allowed us to market to individual, niche markets and establish a team of people internally on the customer service end that understood these individual markets and the problems with which these customers are faced."

Tri-State has made a name for itself on several fronts, led by its Litho division, which caters to the oft-overlooked independent and self-publisher niches. This clientele may find the larger, public book printing conglomerates, the heavily bankrolled consolidators and worldwide superpowers, somewhat intimidating and inaccessible. Tri-State's chairman, however, is not tied up in a president's conference in Prague—he's the man ready to answer the phone or show a nervous, first-time author a printed proof of his/her lifelong labor. A finished book rather than a costly set of bluelines. He's preaching patience rather than stressing volume. The client's ability to satisfy an unknown quality, rather than a sizeable quantity, is his goal. Campagna even wrote a book on, well, printing books.
 

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