Tri-City, Inc. was founded in 1964 by founder and sole proprietor, Claude F. Smith, a life long native of Richmond County, North Carolina. Since its inception, the company has constructed and owns a vast array of shopping centers, apartments, homes, clubhouses, golf courses, office buildings and commercial retail buildings for most major tenants. The results of strong visioning and planning, diligent hard work and sound execution can now be viewed across 23 states nationwide in a variety of retail, residential, professional and resort development projects. For nearly fifty years, Tri-City, acting as owner, developer, and construction manager, has completed innumerable projects which included the installation of construction of over 10 million square feet of office, retail, industrial, and residential space and the on-going management of the completed properties.
Claude F. Smith • Founder
Patriarch of the company, passed away in January of 2014. He was a lifelong resident of Richmond County, North Carolina. He cultivated a keen entrepreneurial spirit dating back to the 1940s beginning before college when he owned and operated a harvesting and crop dusting operation. After graduation from North Carolina State University in 1950, he acquired the family broom business where he invented and patented a machine that produced multiple straw brooms from which he collected royalties from manufacturers throughout the US over the next 20 years. He was one of the first during this time to set up international manufacturing and assembly operations to bolster profits. In 1964 he started his long tradition of developing land and fostering tenant relationships, which has expanded into 23 states. While acquiring and developing land he has owned or is currently involved with numerous companies in the air freight, home improvement, textile, oil, paper, tobacco and other various manufacturing industries. He was founder and President of First Scotland Financial, a bank with over $100 million in outstanding funding. He was well known and respected in the development industry with commanding knowledge of all aspects of land development and construction.
Claudia Robinette • President
A life long resident of Richmond County, North Carolina. She is a 1978 graduate of Lenoir-Ryne College in Hickory, NC where she received a BS degree in Business Administration and she holds a Masters degree in International Business from the University of South Carolina. She has been an integral part of the Tri City Development Team since 1980 including the oversight of numerous commercial development projects and the management of the company's resort development projects.She presently serves on the Richmond Community College Board of Trustees, Richmond County United Way Board of Directors and Richmond County Education Foundation Board of Directors. Her prior offices and appointments include; Wingate University Trustee, Richmond County 2010 Index Committee, Former President of Richmond County Education Foundation and former PTO President. She received the Richmond County Co-Citizen of the Year award for 2006. She and her husband Kenneth have two children.
Kenneth Robinette • Asset Manager; COO
Born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Kenneth moved to Richmond County after graduating from Newberry College with a Business Management degree. He quickly became ingrained in the community and has served as a County Commissioner for 18 years, 17 of which have been as Chairman where he has helped grow the community through economic development initiatives and industry recruitment. Kenneth also has extensive experience in construction and development, both from a residential and commercial perspective. Over the years with Tri City and otherwise, he was intimately involved with the development of multiple grocery anchored centers, numerous build-to-suit retail establishments for Dollar General, Advance Auto Parts and others. He has been involved with residential community development at Pinehurst Plantation (now called Mid South Golf Club), National Golf Club, and McLendon Hills. Kenneth helps lead Tri City with his experience in all aspects of real estate development, investment and management. In addition to his service as a County Commissioner, he is also a member of the Southeast Economic Development Commission.
Barry Embler • CFO
Joined the Tri-City team in 2006. Barry was formerly a senior level auditor for 4.5 years with Arthur Andersen and Co. in Charlotte before leaving to become CFO of Club Development Associates in 1989. He formed his own company in 1996, Signet Golf Associates, where he managed the construction and operations of multiple Golf Courses and Clubhouses throughout the Southeast and performed consulting services for real estate developers and financial institutions. He has significant experience in real estate development and manufacturing environment. He received his BS degree in Accounting in 1985 from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and successfully completed the CPA exam in 1986. He has served as President of the West Pine Middle School Boosters Club, Pesident of Sandhills Optimist youth football, Vice President of Sandhills Optimist baseball, Treasurer of Sandhills Alliance Church and served numerous Golf Club Boards. He currently resides in Southern Pines, NC with his wife and seven children.
Neil Robinette • CEO
Joined Tri-City in 2014, returning to the family business after residing in the Upstate of South Carolina for 8 years. Neil graduated from Wofford College in 2010 where he studied finance and was a four-year letterman on the baseball team. He also received his Masters of Real Estate Development from Clemson University in 2012. Neil worked with Titan Real Estate, a multi-family investment firm located in Greenville, South Carolina. At Titan, he was responsible for various asset management functions for 7 apartment communities in South Carolina and Georgia. Later, he joined McCall Capital, a multi-family developer, owner and manager. There he was the development manager for the firm and also assisted with asset management and accounting functions. During his tenure, the firm developed apartment assets totaling approximately $45MM in value.
Gabrielle Goodwin • Leasing and Tenant Relations Manager
A recent graduate of Wingate University in 2013 where Gabrielle studied human relations. She worked for Tri-City during her college years by assisting with office management and accounting functions. Gabrielle is now responsible for maintaining marketing outlets for Tri-City’s various land or vacant space. She is also critical in developing the direct relationships prospects and assisting tenants through the process of leasing space.
Joe Mendola • Asset Manager
Joseph joined the Tri-City team in 1977 and has been a resident of Richmond County, NC since that date. He is a 1966 graduate from Canisius College, Buffalo NY. He has selected sites and managed numerous development and construction projects for Lowes Home Improvement, Food Lion, Walgreens, Winn Dixie and other tenants listed herein. Prior to coming to Tri-City, he was the Southeast Regional Director for A&P in the real estate store development division where he oversaw the development and acquiring of over 100 A&P stores. Joe served a 4-year term as City Councilman for the City of Rockingham and currently serves on the Richmond County Housing Authority Board.
Vicki Cox • Controller
The controller for Tri-City, Inc. She has her BS in accounting from East Carolina University and has worked in both public and private accounting in a variety of settings including construction, manufacturing, and at a NASCAR Speedway. Ms. Cox has managed multi-million dollar projects including the press box at North Carolina Speedway which included luxury suite accommodations, race control, and a bird’s eye view for spotters. Ms. Cox was also the controller during the installation of lights at Darlington Raceway for night racing. She currently resides in Richmond County where she has served as treasurer for the Richmond County Historical society, the secretary of the Raider Mom’s club and Vice-president of the Richmond County Athletic Booster Club. She is a deacon at First Presbyterian Church and a member of the Le Mardi Book Club. When not working Vickie enjoys spending time with her two sons and granddaughter and going to the beach.
Jyoti Patel • Office Manager
Jyoti Patel is a graduate of S. B. Garda College in Navsari, India, with a Bachelors degree in Commerce in 1986. Over the last 30 years, she has owned and operated a variety of hospitality businesses across the country, before moving to Richmond County in 2008 with her husband and 3 children. Jyoti is an active Chamber member and serves as a Board Member of Richmond County Tourism for over 7 years.
Mandy McGee • Accounts Payable Manager
Mandy graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2006 with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Journalism. During her college career, she worked in the UNCC Financial Aid Office before moving on to the Accounting/HR department of Charlotte-based steel fabricator, Metrolina Steel, Inc. Upon relocating back to Rockingham in 2009, Mandy was employed as the primary legal assistant at a local law office. Mandy now serves as Accounts Payable Manager of Tri-City, Inc. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys reading and has published two novels.