In 1977, after 10 years of playing football at the collegiate and professional levels, Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte decided to focus his leadership and team-building skills on a new business endeavor. He took a leap and signed a lease on the back of a cardboard box and opened the first Arizona Tile location in San Diego, CA.
40 years later, the company has hundreds of employees, nearly half of which have been with the company for over a decade, and many who have been with the company since the beginning.
“Our success solely comes from the vision that John and his wife Eileen Huarte had for this company when starting it - the sensibility that our relationships with our customers and our fellow employees are the most important aspect of what we do,” said company president, Bob Traxler.
Arizona Tile strives to provide a uniquely positive experience for each customer. The company prides itself on providing customers with ideas and information they may need in order to move forward with projects.
“We’ve stayed focused on taking care of our customer needs as best as we can, and they’re satisfied and become a referral service,” said founder John Huarte. Beyond assisting with products, the company strives to meet the necessities of their customers by listening to what their product and location needs may be. This has helped Arizona Tile identify which markets would benefit from a nearby showroom, as well as pinpoint which types of products customers are most in need of.
Originally Arizona Tile began as a ceramic tile supplier. As their customer needs changed, the company evolved to accommodate those needs. In 1993 Arizona Tile introduced slab materials to their inventory. At that time the company had twelve slab colors available. In 2017 the company is now one of the largest slab distributors in the U.S. offering over 235 slab products. In addition to slabs, they also distribute several various natural stone, porcelain, glass and mosaic tile products that can’t be found elsewear.
“We have always seen ourselves as a company serving our customers in the western U.S. but we continue to grow our footprint geographically,” said Traxler. “As our customers have continued to grow and have started moving eastward, I think there’s more call for us to grow and to cast our eyes a little further east, and as time goes on, I think we will. The single thing that drives our growth more than anythingelse is our wish to create opportunity and value for both our employees and also our customers.”
This growth is evident as the company excitedly awaits the opening of their newest branch in Austin,TX, this year. John Huarte’s son, and company vice-president of operations, Mark Huarte, adds “We’re excited to announce the building of our Austin, TX, location and our intent is to continue that path with another store.”