This year marks 40 years of business, customer service and valued relationships for Arizona Tile. Since opening the doors of its first location in San Diego in 1977, the retail operation has grown tremendously in size, product offering and impact. We reached out to the company to learn more about its journey to this milestone, and its plans for the future.

FT: Forty years of business is a great accomplishment. Congratulations! What has led to the company’s longevity and success?

AT: Arizona Tile was truly built on relationships—relationships with our fellow employees as well as relationships with our customers. We’ve grown quite a lot in all of these years, and the thing that has kept us centered and valued to the extent that we are by our customers, is the sensibility that our relationships are the most important aspect of what we do.

FT: Arizona Tile places great value on its employees and customers. Explain why this is so important and how it’s worked well for the company over the years.

AT: Arizona Tile was founded on the concept that goodwill towards others, including our fellow employees, is good business. We are committed to supporting our employees in providing an outstanding experience for our customers. With many employees choosing to spend 10, 20 and 30 years of their career with us, we value the family we have created within our team members. Placing this level of value on our employees and customers throughout the years has helped us to develop real relationships with the people we’re working with on a day to day basis.

“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, we strive to meet the necessities of our customers by listening to what their product and location needs may be. This has helped us identify which markets would benefit from a nearby showroom, as well as pinpoint which types of products customers are most in need of.

FT: How has the company grown and evolved since its founding?

AT: When we first opened in 1977, the company was strictly a distributer of ceramic tiles. Eventually we began carrying porcelain tile, and in 1993 we began our first involvement in the slab business. Currently we have over 35 slab products. In addition to slabs, Arizona Tile also distributes several varieties of natural stone, porcelain, glass and mosaic tile products that you won’t find anywhere else on earth.

Arizona Tile stocks an unparalleled breadth of inventory, thereby allowing us to provide exceptional service to our customers. Commercial developers, designers and architects look to us as a resource for technical information; while designers and builders entrust their clients to us. For customers, the experience we create while taking them through the selection process is the essence of Arizona Tile.

FT: How does Arizona Tile create and maintain knowledgeable, well-versed sales teams?

AT: Arizona Tile has a training program in place that all of our sales teams must go through upon hire. In this program they learn the fundamentals of safety as well as the materials we carry. We also provide continual training to ensure that our employees are up-to-date with industry standards. [Further, we] work closely with the Marble Institute of America (MIA) to apply its guidelines to our business practices in order to ensure that our employees are doing their jobs as safely as possible.

FT: Over four decades, how have your advertising methods changed, if at all? Does social media play a role in the company’s advertising and promotion today?

AT: Our advertising efforts continually evolve as methods change and the way our customers look for information shifts. Reaching our customers through multiple channels will always be an important element, including our website, online searches and social media.

FT: What advice can you give to your fellow industry retail operations?

AT: For Arizona Tile, knowing that our relationships with our customers and our fellow employees are the most important aspect of what we do has been a key element to our success.

We feel it’s very important to really listen to your customer. Even if we don’t have the exact item a customer is looking for, we believe that if we listen to what the customer is trying to accomplish, we can help them find a selection they will truly love for years to come. It’s important to us to not just make a sale, but to help each of our customers find products that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives, or until they’re ready to remodel.

FT: Finally, taking a glimpse into the future, where do you see Arizona Tile 40 years from now?

AT: Wherever our customers lead us is where we’ll be in 40 years, whether that be online or on another planet!