Ila Lewis (center)

Gerber Plumbing Fixtures said that Chairman Ila Lewis has retired after more than 27 years, leaving the business without direct-family involvement for the first time in its 76-year history. Lewis joined the company in 1981, working mostly in marketing positions. After the death of her mother, Harriet Gerber Lewis, Lewis assumed control of the company in 2001, the third generation to run the firm after its founder - her grandfather, Max Gerber - left the business to her mother and uncle.

Lewis led Gerber through many advances and is well-known in the plumbing industry. In 2003 she was honored with the Golden Eagle award from AIM/R for her outstanding contributions to the industry and support of professional independent manufacturers representatives. “These have been exciting, challenging and rewarding years,” Lewis wrote in a retirement announcement letter to the company’s staff. “Gerber will continue to be known as a company where people are its foundation, its glue and the unparalleled substance that truly sets it apart.”