OBERLIN, OH -- The Natural Stone Institute’s Person of the Year award is presented annually to an individual who has provided extensive support to the association’s executive team during the year.  As a dedicated leader and tireless volunteer, Michael Picco of PICCO Group is recognized as the 2021 Person of the Year. Michael served as the 2021 Natural Stone Institute board president, guiding the association through the second year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Natural Stone Institute CEO, Jim Hieb explains why Michael was this year’s choice. “It was remarkable to watch how he got involved and how he was engaged. There were committee meetings upon committee meetings that were conducted via virtual platforms, and he was the pillar of participation, contribution and leadership. He was a tremendous influence on me and our staff this year.”  Hieb described Michael’s leadership style as concise, direct, strategic and spot on.   

Picco’s association contributions in 2021 include much more than serving as the board president.  Michael championed the industry’s sustainability initiative, helping give the Natural Stone Sustainability Standard relevance in the marketplace and positioning natural stone as a sustainable building material for the design community. He has the unique ability to simplify complex issues and his ability to rally people around a concept is impressive. Specific to sustainability, Picco shared the message that this initiative is the “path to the future.” He added: “Sustainability is important to the design community and the natural stone industry has a big opportunity to leverage natural stone as the premier sustainable building product. We needed to seize this moment.”

His long list of 2021 industry involvement also includes serving as a key contributor to the planned update of the Dimension Stone Design Manual, assisting in the development and launch of the “Achieving Green Building Goals with Natural Stone” CEU course, and leading the strategic effort to develop Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for cladding, flooring/paving and countertops. When asked to reflect on his year of volunteer leadership, he responded: “I'm very proud of the multifaceted initiatives that we've taken on at the same time— the ISO project, the Natural Stone Sustainability Standard and updating the Dimension Stone Design Manual. We're all really focused around the sustainability initiative and some of the pieces we need to put in place around that. I'm proud of being part of that process and we'll continue to help in the future to drive that forward.” Michael described what it was like serving during the pandemic. “Despite the challenges we had this year with restricted travel, connecting through webinars (as much as I don't like them) was the only way to do it. Whatever it took (phone calls, Zoom meetings, go-to-meetings), I felt a commitment that I needed to do it for the industry.”

Picco also guided the association through a merger with the National Building Granite Quarriers Association, served as an advocate for the Natural Stone Pavilion at StonExpo/Marmomac at TISE, and gave multiple presentations highlighting the global role and initiatives led by the Natural Stone Institute.