Tough times don’t dampen entrepreneur’s determination to succeed- once again

Tough times don’t dampen entrepreneur’s determination to succeed- once again

flooring_05By Chelsea Martin

Entrepreneur John Bebbling is the first one to admit he’s had a tough couple of years. But with a never-let-life-get-you-down view of the world, it doesn’t take long for the “downs” to turn back into “ups.” Bebbling’s story, or at least the modern-day version of it, starts with his arrival in Arizona from southern California. The state was then, and remains, quite the young, eclectic state, filled with transplants from all over the country, some looking to expand their precious family trees, some simply wandering through to avoid the harsh winters. Although the state has been continually expanding for years, there is a serious lack of deep roots due to the age and history of this dry, yet inviting desert. There are a select few individuals through out the early years of Tempe’s development who dedicated their time to the building and expanding of the community, allowing their roots to spread rapidly. One of those is John G. Bebbling. Bebbling is a Tempe business man, a husband, father, grandfather, neighbor and, as history shows, a helping friend to those in need. Bebbling started working in a paint and wallpaper store in southern California from the time he was 9 years old until he was 18. He says he practically grew up in the business, learning the ropes firsthand. The moment he chose ASU as his destination for collegiate studies in 1965, the rest was history. Bebbling became a diehard Sun Devil, never once feeling the need to leave Tempe and ultimately identifying Tempe as his home. Decided Bebbling: It was the perfect place for his family to grow and thrive within the community. Since making the decision to keep his community at the forefront, Bebbling says he never once has allowed circumstances of the moment to keep him down. Not only has he dedicated his time and effort towards sustaining a successful business venture, but he has focused a large chunk of his time towards certain charities such as: Make-A-Wish Foundation, YMCA, Tempe Diablos, and Tempe St. Luke’s, Pat Tillman Foundation, Tempe Salvation Army, and the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley. In 1974, a hopeful Bebbling optimistically decided to use $1,000 of his savings to start his first business, Tempe Decorator Center. “When I first started in this business, the first thing I sold was a 99-cent paintbrush. That was it,” Bebbling said. Sales shot through the roof, numbers consistently doubling each year until the small business Bebbling first opened transformed into a multi-million-dollar company. The business was on top of the world, Bebbling said, each person as satisfied as the next. By then TDC had 300 employees and 11 locations. In 2010, things took a turn for the worse when the economy slipped and many companies were being directly being affected by it. TDC happened to be one of them. The tough economic times forced the bank Bebbling worked closely with to call his line of credit, thus pulling a million dollars from his checking account and forcing the business to close. But it didn’t take Bebbling long to recover. A man dedicated to the building of new relationships, Bebbling said he was concerned because he did not want his loyal builders to lose faith in him. TDC had been a thriving and reliable company for over 36 years. “I had no control over the bank closing me down, and my biggest worry during that time was, I didn’t want anyone to get upset with me,” Bebbling said. A competitor and good friends of Bebbling’s, Adams Brothers, decided to take over the space from TDC, and Bebbling transferred his accounts to them. Unfortunately, the economy affected the Adams Brothers in the unfortunate way, causing a new rash of troubles and forcing them to close after three months. It took Bebbling a similar three months to start back up, a quick turnaround that resulted in creating what was now a two generation business, under the name Arizona Flooring and Interiors. All the while, Bebbling’s three children stood by their dad and were there to help get the business back on track. Today, the company, employing a tight-knit team of 10, is a flooring and design center that serves the retail, remodeling, homebuilding and commercial markets. One thing hasn’t changed: Family remains a number-one priority for Bebbling, who says he is extremely grateful for the help of his son, John, and his daughters, Jamie and Allison. Jamie is president, John W. is vice president and Allison is secretary treasurer. Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell also works for the company, as do Bebbling’s nephew and a couple other staff members who he praises as likewise dedicated. Now that the company is fully off the ground, Bebbling says he and the family have been working diligently toward their goal of growing and expanding from the current Tempe location. John Jr. is working full-time at the store, doing what his dad describes as “a fine job.” Although the company has had to cope with some routine (and some not-so-ordinary) challenges, Bebbling says they are ready and capable of handing the tasks that lie ahead. “It was very difficult to regain previous contractors’ trust in the beginning because I really let them down,” Bebbling said. “I was put into a very embarrassing situation and my hands were tied. I just want to make sure they are all taken care of.” Despite the changes in the market, Bebbling’s family and friends are working toward the next step. “Business is going good. After six months we have become profitable and stable,” Bebbling said. Bebbling points out that he appreciates the lessons he has learned through the hard economic times and the unfortunate situation that occurred. He has learned to never let anything stop him from accomplishing exactly what he wants to do, he says. “I was a mess at first, blood pressure through the roof, but I recovered. I realized that whatever you’re doing and whatever may happen, you will come back from it,” Bebbling said. “Never give up. Remember that.” Some people dread their routine jobs, but for Bebbling it’s a treat to head into work each day, a smile plastered to his face. “I try to work out every day and on my health because I want to be around for another 20 years. That’s how much I love my job,” Bebbling said

Photo by Billy Hardiman

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