Marble Institute's Distelhorst to Retire

Words: Dan KamysMarble Institute's Distelhorst to Retire

Garis Distelhorst will retire as executive vice president/CEO of the Marble Institute of America (MIA) at the end of 2012 after serving the industry group for 11 years. Jim Hieb, the current MIA VP, will move up to the executive VP’s office on Jan. 1. Distelhorst’s retirement winds up a 43-year career as a senior-level association executive. Prior to joining the MIA in 2002, he served as he was CEO of the National Association of College Stores (NACS) for 17 years. Previously, he was a senior executive at Smith Bucklin, an association management firm in Washington.

During his 11-year tenure, Distelhorst oversaw the growth of MIA’s membership from the 600-company level to nearly 1,500; the establishment of the first professional accreditation for stone fabricators and installers; the expansion of the library of technical publications, videos, and web information resources for stone professionals and specifies, with the MIA’s bookstore offerings growing by more than 1,000 percent; and the creation of the Natural Stone Council, a federation of stone-industry associations that work on common industry issues like sustainability.

He also helped guide the transition of StonExpo into one of the largest stone shows in the United States; oversaw the development of groundbreaking safety training programs; created awards programs to recognize stone excellence and craftsmanship; guided the development of a regional education program plus stone education at Coverings, KBIS, AIA, and other shows; and spearheaded comprehensive, multifaceted outreach to architects and designers who specify building materials, including developing a successful continuing education program in partnership with the American Institute of Architects, the National Kitchen & Bath Association and others.

He also led the industry’s response to allegations about radon in granite that surfaced nationwide in the summer of 2008. Faced with a barrage of negative national media coverage, he marshaled a massive effort funded by MIA members to defuse the crisis with scientific evidence and assure consumers of granite’s safety.

Under his steady guidance, MIA turned a business-threatening challenge into a successful consumer education opportunity. The campaign produced millions of hits to MIA’s website and thousands of views of MIA’s “Truth About Granite” web video.

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