Tri-State--Reinvent and Refocus
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.
“We looked at what the big printers were doing and realized there wasn’t a place for the independent author. This is because large book printers are looking for volume and steady customers—a publisher that will provide them with multiple titles,” Campagna explains. “We asked: ‘Who’s taking care of the author who will write two books in his lifetime? Who’s showing him the steps and making it affordable for him?’ We put together a guide book that walks them through the process, and nobody else does that. This way, they can see what their finished product is going to look like, and it actually walks them through the entire process.”
Frank Campagna hails from a family of entrepreneurs, which isn’t surprising (his immigrant grandfather manufactured spaghetti). Tri-State Copy Land was started by his mother, Loretta, in 1976 as she partnered with Xerox and introduced its first line of high-speed copiers to the Hudson Valley. It was a hot commodity in the late 1970s, and Loretta went after commercial accounts to give them fast turnaround on black-and-white booklets that took considerably longer to produce in commercial shops. Tri-State was turning out millions of copies each month, but the market would quickly change as the larger accounts began installing their own copiers in-house.