Tri State Supply Company Celebrating 50 Years of Service
Observer-Reporter, Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Jim Van Zandt has been the CEO and president of Tri State Supply Company since it was founded in 1963 in Washington. Tri State was originally an electrical wholesale company that also sold plumbing and HVAC supplies. Van Zandt jokes that he even sold fertil- izer and shingles.
In the late 1970s, Tri State began to truly focus on the electrical side of the business. In 1977, Tri State was appointed an Allen Bradley/Rockwell Automation distributor for counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, one of only 47 in the United States today.
The last 50 years have seen many advances in technology and many changes in the industrial landscape of the area. With five locations in Washington, Waynesburg, New Brighton and Butler as well as Wheeling, W.Va., Tri State Supply is strategically posi- tioned to serve the electrical and automation needs of the tri-state area.
Being an independent, locally owned company gives Tri State the flexibility to make decisions quickly to stay at the forefront of technology.
“As a privately owned com- pany with a smaller management team, we are much more agile and we can streamline the decision-making process, eliminating the red tape that can slow decisions in much larger organizations,” said Jeff Van Zandt, Tri State’s vice president of operations.
“Our size and work flow allows us to customize inven- tory to meet the changing needs of our customers,” said Barry Busbey, vice president of sales and marketing. An inhouse modification site allows Tri State to customize products to customer specifications and reduce the lead time from the factory. “With the development of Marcellus Shale, we have been able to quickly adapt to meet the specialized requirements and specifications of the oil and gas companies.”
Tri State has grown to meet the needs of the increasing oil and gas business in the area and is planning to expand, creating a new central distribution center. Growing facilities is great, but it’s the eight new local jobs they have created over the last few years that truly help the local economy.
With a salesperson devoted specifically to the unique needs and requirements of the energy industry, Tri State is able to focus on the needs of the customers and ensure that the products and services they offer are tailored to the industry. A great opportunity for Tri State and their customers is to upgrade their lighting sys- tems to more energy-efficient systems. Not only does Tri State provide the knowledge and parts to complete the job, they also help the owners and end-users through the process to get rebates from the power companies for the upgrades.
Although Marcellus Shale is the topic of conversation with many in the area, it is only one part of Tri State’s business. As one of only 47 authorized Rockwell Automation distrib- utors in the country, serving the tri-state area, Tri State is able to offer unique automation products and services designed to streamline work and increase productivity. One of the key differentiators separating Tri State from other electrical distributors and the competition in the automation field are the eight in-house, specially trained technical support representatives for the Rockwell Automation line.
In today’s economy, businesses are looking to maxi- mize their profits by stream- lining operations and saving costs. The Rockwell products help with efficiency in manufacturing, and Tri State’s tech- nical automation specialists can help engineers at an in- dustrial end-user to make the right choices when designing and solving an automation project.
It takes more than state-of-the-art products and solutions to make a successful business, however. It takes satisfied customers and employees who pride themselves in their work. The leadership style of the Tri State management team fosters longevity with employees, with many of the team averaging 20 years of experience. Recent retirements, however, have injected new youth into the organization.
Jim and Jeff believe the company has grown and is successful because of its people.
“I believe we have the best people from top to bottom in the industry, they are all proud of the work they do and this company,” Jeff said. The growth and opportunity cre- ated by the Marcellus devel- opments has rekindled Jim’s passion for the business as well. Jim welcomes the new challenges, as with those chal- lenges, Tri State can create new opportunities to better serve the community.
Every other year, as a “thank you” to their customers, vendors and employees, Tri State hosts a pig roast and minitrade show at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Attendance regularly reaches around 1,000. This relation- ship is crucially important to Tri State that they regularly work to introduce customers to one another so that through networking, all can work to in- crease their business. Tri State knows some businesses never sleep, so they offer 24/7 emergency support.
Technical solutions to increase efficiency, sustainabil- ity, safety and productivity through energy savings and automation is the goal of Tri State Supply Company. From mining to manufacturing to Marcellus, Tri State Supply has the staff, solutions and service to handle your elec- trical and automation needs. Contact them today at 724- 225- 8311.