Sitting Down With Lynne Schultz and Bart Gobioff of Tri-State Marketing

We recently sat down with Lynne Schultz and Bart Gobioff of Tri-State Marketing to learn about their stellar organization and why Tri-State chooses to work with Arctic Industries. A slightly edited transcript of the conversation can be found below.

Bart and Lynne, you have been around the block in Food-Service. Please tell us the story, how Tri-State came to be and how is your organization structured today?

Bart: “We’re enjoying our 23rd year in business. I migrated over to the rep side of our industry, and Lynne started on the manufacturing side. I called up Lynne and said we should have lunch one day and talk about starting our own company. We got together and wrote a business plan down on the back of a napkin the next week.”

Lynne: “We wanted to represent the best manufacturers in their segment in the marketplace. We also wanted to focus on manufacturers that are not under big umbrellas. It’s important that we can pick up the phone and reach the President, VP, Director of Sales if we have an important issue that needs to be addressed immediately. It is not by circumstance that our manufacturers are strong, quality-focused, market leaders.”

There is so much going on in the industry with challenges never faced yet tremendous opportunities. What is your team’s key to success with so much dynamic fluctuation in price, supply, etc.?

Lynne: “Most of our people have been with us for many years. We don’t have a significant turnover because we treat our employees like family, and it reflects in both their loyalty and their length of service. I tell them it’s never a straight road up; and after 23 years, we have had our ups and downs. We’ve seen 9/11, the banking crises of 2009, and now the pandemic. But our ability to stay focused, work as a team, and set long-term goals is the reason we have persevered.”

How has COVID affected your team? What are your thoughts on the recovery of the market?

Bart: “Our team is stronger because of COVID. We’ve been through something unique, something difficult, together and know we can all count on each other. I think as soon as the channels clear themselves and the product starts flowing through, prices will stabilize. I’d like to think that by mid-2022, this is going to be a bad memory.”

Can you give your perspective on the unique variables of the NY and Upstate NY markets?

Lynne: “New York City relies on Broadway, on restaurants, and on tourists. When everything closed up, people disappeared, homelessness crept back, crime crept up. But that hasn’t lasted. New York City is once again exploding. We are the new hub for tech: Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. They see New York as the future, so do we. The real estate slump is gone and prices are skyrocketing.

Upstate New York has plowed through COVID, with most of the dealers and end users staying open and making the best of a difficult time. While consolidation has hit many areas of the industry, upstate New York still has a significant number of independent dealers and a wide range of operators. We see this area as a great opportunity to grow.”

How did your relationship with Arctic come about?

Bart: “One of our past clients had put us in contact with the past president of Arctic. His regional manager reached out to us and asked if we would like to interview for the line. We were able to bring awareness to the Arctic line, which up to then, had not been a mainstream recognized manufacturer in the New York area. Today, everyone associates Arctic as the quality walk in they are.”

Lynne: “Our relationship with Artic stems from the management team all the way to the sales support side. They have proven over and over again their commitment to be a relationship-based company, which is part of their continued success. They have a strong inside team that our customers have come to rely on.”

Can you tell us a little bit more about the consultant market? What types of projects or opportunities could come through the consultant network post-COVID?

Lynne: “Consultants specify products for primarily two reasons: they want a product that will give their customer a good value with great quality and if there’s a problem, they want to know the factory will stand behind it. Arctic excels in those two areas, making them a go-to manufacturer for many consultants.”

What excites you about the future of working with Arctic?

Lynne: “The management team cares about the reps and the customers. When a new management team comes in, things change. We were happy to see that the new management team had the same values and concerns for the customer that we hold dear. It excites me to know that we have people interested in growing the company and that cares about the customer in a way that is fading in both our industry and many around us.”

If you could say one statement or sentence about Tri-State, how would you sum it up?

Bart: The fact that I can do this with my best friend, wife, and business partner is a blessing—and the people who work for us have been a blessing as well. [Tri-State] is like a child that Lynne and I have nurtured and grown for the last 23 years that we’re very proud of.”

Lynne: “I’d like to think that we are different in many ways. From our relationship-based approach to business, to our employees who treat the company as theirs, we believe in building relationships based on integrity and a win/win approach. We also offer a unique test kitchen, which afford customers the experience of a farm-to-table atmosphere.”

Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat with us, Lynne and Bart!