The Marble Institute of America, Inc. (MIA) has announced that Joe Durfee, Assistant Production Manager at Great Lakes Granite & Marble in Redford, MI, is the 2010 recipient of the MIA Natural Stone Scholarship Award.

The scholarship was established by the MIA to provide educational opportunities for aspiring fabricators, installers, or administrative apprentices interested in furthering their career in the stone industry. Durfee's selection was based on a 500-word essay explaining why he desires a career in the industry. "I am usually the first one to work in the morning and among the last to leave each night," he wrote. "They say that time flies when you are having fun and I tend to believe that. I think the favorite part of my job is the variety and the learning opportunities that are presented to me each day. I think the natural stone industry is a good fit for me because it combines many of the thing I love doing."

Included with Durfee's application letter were before-and-after pictures of many projects he had worked on, including the first computerized layout project performed by Great Lakes Granite & Marble. Although the customers were not initially pleased with the result, Durfee was able to show them on a computer that the layout they received was the best possible outcome -- given the flow of the stone and the location of the seams. "We were extremely impressed with the fact that Joe felt compelled to include a project that was not initially 100% satisfactory," said MIA Executive Vice President, Garis Distelhorst. "Learning and growing from situations like the one Joe faced is what makes a successful person and businessman."

In his letter of recommendation, Rich Booms, President of Great Lakes Marble & Granite, said: "I would like to extend my recommendation for the MIA Natural Stone Scholarship to Joe Durfee. In the time that Joe has been with the company, we have watched him grow from needing advice and coaching on most items he dealt with to needing less and less supervision and mentoring. We trust Joe to help make decisions that have a positive impact on our company and the industry. We give him space to solve problems on his own which has taken a load off the rest of management to allow them to focus on more strategic goals to take Great Lakes Granite & Marble to the next level of service for our customers."

"The Marble Institute of America is excited to recognize Mr. Durfee's commitment to the natural stone industry," said Distelhorst. "The intent of the MIA Natural Stone Scholarship Award is to provide educational opportunities for aspiring natural stone professionals, and the opportunity to expand one's knowledge."