Tri-State Grain Inspection Service Inc.

Servicing portions of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky along the Ohio River, Tri-State Grain Inspection Service is a family owned and operated agency with a strong commitment to integrity, service, and employee development.  Those commitments started with the Agency’s founder, Patrick Corrigan.

Patrick G. (Pat) Corrigan was born in 1928, and graduated high school in 1945.  Like his siblings, he went into the military service after graduation.  However, instead of the Air Force, he joined the Navy as a Medic.  He served through WW II and received a victory medal for his service.  Pat began a college career studying Pre-Med at Marquette University.  After two years, he switched to business classes at Toledo University, got married, and found a job working for the Toledo Board of Trade. His inspection career began under the tutelage of Virgil McNamee, who had the best (and only) training program in the country at this time.  Pat gained experience and licenses, but more, he loved his work and believed in the importance of its role in agriculture and the country.  Pat saw the big picture grain inspection was to play in the growth of United States agriculture, and wanted to be a part of it.  Pat worked with pioneers such as Virgil McNamee, Ted Hoelck, and Joe Slater, all who testified before the Senate for two hours regarding changes to the United States Grain Standards Act.   Pat traveled to Washington with Joe Slater and Ted Hoelck in 1975, on behalf of the Inspection System to urge President Gerald Ford to sign into law the revised Grain Standards Act, which Ford did in November 1976.
Pat continued his career in Toledo as an inspector.  He raised eight children with his wife, Katie, and did some training and teaching of his own.  Pat always believed senior inspectors should pass on their knowledge.  He hired a young sampler, Dave Mundwiler; we all know how that story ended.

Pat left Toledo in 1973 to become Chief Inspector for the Cincinnati Board of Trade.  He hired a young chemist, Damon W. Sampson in 1974, and quickly made him his Assistant Chief Inspector.  Pat had a good eye for talent, and didn’t want him to slip away.  The government decided in 1978 that it was a conflict for firms to own/operate Boards of Trade.  As a result, Pat bought the business on December 4 of that year, and named it Tri-State Grain Inspection Services Inc. 

Pat ran Tri-State with his partner Damon Sampson for the next fourteen years.  He believed in AAGIWA and the importance of the work it does to guide and protect the official inspection service, and he served as an officer for both the North Central and National AAGIW A. When he retired in 1992, he named Damon Sampson to Chief Inspector.  Damon has served as Chief for thirteen years.  Colleen (Corrigan) Sampson, also an accomplished inspector, and Damon’s wife, took over as chief in 2005.  Together, Colleen and Damon run Tri-State Grain Inspection Service today.

Located along the Ohio River, Tri-State has always inspected barges moving to the Gulf for transshipment around the world.  Due to their northern location the barge business is seasonal.  The upper Mississippi River closes on January 1 and weather determines when loading begins again.  Until that time, Tri-State stays extremely busy always ready to provide service with someone that is licensed to grade any grain under the Grain Standards Act.

The Sampson’s enjoy the unpredictability of running an official grain inspection agency.  Damon is quick to point out that every day is different.  You never know on any given day who will want service and what kind of service they will need.  And just when you think you know, it changes.  

Tri-State has always met whatever changes came their way.  When first established, the agency performed many inbound truck inspections along with the barge inspections.  When user fees were established, companies began dropping the service to save costs and better utilize their own employees.  Then rail loaders increased their requests for services.  Through it all, barge inspections have always been a needed service, and have been increasing.  Specialty grains are increasing in the area, and the Cincinnati Port Authority is exploring loading containers for shipment to the gulf by barge; Tri-State will be there to provide this service as well.

Flexibility is another of Tri-State’s principles.  Sometimes they agree first, and then plan how to accomplish the task.  Damon also believes keeping an open line of communication between Tri-State and the grain industry is essential.  Customer communication builds valued relationships that can save time and money for both parties when implementing changes such as the addition of new sampling systems.  Dedicated and knowledgeable, employees are also key as they are the ones seen most often by customers.  Many current employees have parents that also worked at Tri-State.  

Damon and Colleen credit their success to two of Pat’s founding principles:

First, integrity – Pat always said “It’s the one thing you own, that nobody can take.  Be careful not to lose it.” 

Second, attitude – life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.

Along with a proud past, Damon and Colleen see a bright future for Tri-State.  Their son (Pat’s grandson), Michael Sampson, is in training to take over the business and is currently the Office Manager.  Michael has his corn and soybeans license, and soon will take the test for wheat.  His wife, Staci, works for the company and runs the majority of the mycotoxin testing.  At this time Colleen Sampson is acting Chief Inspector and Damon is the Agency Manager.  They hope to pass the baton to Mike and Staci over the next couple of years.