When Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Carroll thinks of longtime Englewood resident and business owner Joe Tatarka, one word comes to mind — generous.
“Of course, he was generous with his support of the chamber, but he was also generous from the heart with his support of the Englewood community,” said Carroll. The chamber promotes its business members and Englewood businesses.
Tatarka had one last generous act left in him before he passed away last December due to complications following emergency surgery. He left the company that had been owned and operated by his family since 1950 to his employees.
Tatarka owned A-B&C Enterprises in Englewood, a company that supplies auto dealer supplies, printing and banners, promotional products and wearable advertising. He was laid to rest on Feb. 1 at the age of 72 and leaves behind his sister, brother, two stepsisters, stepbrother, three nephews and two nieces.
As a boy, Tatarka found success as a salesman when he was a carrier for the Journal-Advocate newspaper in Sterling, Colorado — Tatarka's hometown. He translated that passion for sales when he joined A-B&C Enterprises as an owner in 1986. His father Bill Tatarka started the company in 1950 after brainstorming a business plan in his basement.
When he was a student at Regis Jesuit High School, Tatarka worked odd jobs to pay his way through school. He liked to play the drums and was part of a band called the Hitchhikers.
After graduating from high school in 1966, Tatarka served in the Army and fought in the Vietnam War. He returned to Colorado after the war to receive his bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Following that, Tatarka went on to earn his Master of Business Administration from Seattle University.
His niece, Emily Broome, said nothing could get to Tatarka. She says he had the ability to remove himself from negativity and rise above and do good.
“Life could be falling apart, and he would take care of you and help you. It was just that feeling of safety he gave you,” said Broome. “He had a really funny sense of humor, and he liked to tease you and make fun of you in a clever way. He was just a fun, easy person to be around.”
Tatarka served as a mentor to his employees and looked at them like they were his family. Julie Morgan, general manager at A-B&C Enterprises, says Tatarka helped mold her by teaching his management style to her. He enjoyed listening to stories from his employees, and always said it is not who you hire — it is who you keep. Morgan is an example of that as she has worked for Tatarka's company for 28 years.
“He had a huge heart and always put his people first. He was definitely more than just a boss,” said Morgan. “He always went above and beyond.”
Tatarka's service also included a stint as president of the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce in 1993 and 1994. In 2019, he was awarded the Lifetime Business Achievement Award from the chamber.
He frequented Englewood businesses like Nixon's Coffee House, Gallo Italian Supper Club and Bake and the Englewood Grand. His business is left behind to eight of his employees, including Morgan.
“It shows how close we all are. He always called us the A-B&C family, and when he came on, (A-B&C Enterprises) was his baby,” said Morgan. “It is kind of like him leaving his baby to the people he trusted the most.”
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