Arizona Tile : Italy in Southwest America
Article Date: 05/12/2014
Arizona Tile is the largest importer and distributor of tile and stone in the American Southwest. After starting up as Morena Tile in San Diego in 1977, Eileen and John Huarte expanded their business throughout the southwestern states, beginning with Arizona and California and from there moving into Colorado, Texas, Nevada and Utah. The figures speak for themselves : 25 showrooms with warehouses, 1.3 million sq feet of display space, 670 employees, a turnover of more than $250 million, and logistics system that includes a fleet of trucks.
The company's core business consists of Italian ceramic tiles for interiors and exteriors, along with a selection of natural stone such as granite, marble, travertine and onyx.
Arizona Tile enjoys a special relationship with the leading Italian groups in the industry, especially with a number of longstanding partners who support the group's management in all stages from market analysis through to purchasing. The group chose to focus on Italian products for their cultural content. Despite the recession, the group resisted the temptation to follow the example of the superstores to offer low-price Chinese products, choosing instead to continue to sell high-value products.
Arizona Tile has a sales staff of more than 80 professionals specializing in the residential and retail segments, who respond rapidly to its customer needs with a wide range of customized solutions. The team can fulfil the needs both of large contractors working on shopping malls and condominiums and of members of the public remodeling their homes.
Selling tiles is a kind of cultural challenge that involves promoting products that are part of Italy and its history. Americans can recognize quality, but sometimes they need help in discovering and appreciating the kind of investment and hard work in terms of research, development and creativity that goes into certain products.
With strong first-half sales figures sustained by the recovery of the real estate market, Arizona Tile is anticipating further growth in the next six months. Sales of new homes to May rose by 18.6% while sales of existing homes grew by 4.9%, the second consecutive increase and a figure higher than analysts' projections.
House prices are also rising. The Case-Shiller index measuring price trends in the largest metropolitan areas was more than 10% up on an annual basis and about 1% up on the previous month.
Signals are strong in all market segments. One aspect that needs to be improved through is that of shipment times. On an average it take 42-45 days for goods to reach the warehouses after placing an order, a period of time that is still too long and has a big impact on the structure and costs.