Jonathan R. Distel feels twenty years older than he actually is — mainly because he started his career at the tender age of 6. That was when he received his first set of tools. Not plastic toys, but real tools in a real toolbox. He took them to the job sites of his father and grandfather and quickly learned the skills passed down by the men in his family for five generations, dating back to Swiss woodcarvers of Brienz. It wasn't long before he was working alongside the carpenters and developing his craft, firsthand.

Throughout his youth, Jon helped his father and grandfather construct houses in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia and the Main Line suburbs. He learned time-honored techniques from a variety of craftsmen from the deep South, Appalachia, and Europe.

As a student at Chestnut Hill Academy, Jon received the Energy Scholars Annual Conference Award for his work in Solar Energy Studies in 1979. Just four years later, he and his family built the very first Ecosa double-envelope solar house in Pennsylvania.

At Drexel University, Jon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and International Economics — a five-year cooperative education program that he completed in four years, often averaging 24 credits a term. He was still able to find time for building, restoration, and working with his family. He even started his own furniture restoration business and counted University department heads and professors among his clients.

After graduation, Jon put his degree and knowledge of world trade to use by partnering with a Belgian woodworking company. They opened offices in Liege, Greenwich, and Philadelphia, and together custom-designed and built extravagant entrances and doorways for export to the United States. Jon traveled Western Europe, researching the history of European entrance styles to bring new ideas and designs to their company.

After years of success, Jon decided to redirect his efforts and give something back to his hometown city of Philadelphia. He assembled a large crew of workers and

rehabilitated city row homes that had been victimized by arson and nearly destroyed. The work was challenging, but also rewarding. Not only did he create housing for needy families, he was also able to rescue architectural treasures from being ultimately destroyed. Years later, he would further devote his community-driven spirit to several Habitat for Humanity projects in Trenton, New Jersey.

Over the years that followed, Jon further broadened his experience as a Construction Manager for major construction firms in the Mid-Atlantic region — working on large-scale institutional, commercial, and residential projects. At the same time, he continued to work for his own clients and build his reputation as a master carpenter and restoration specialist.

Since founding Firethorn Incorporated in 1992, Jon has set the standard for providing high quality craftsmanship and building services with a uniquely cost-effective approach. In addition to building, Jon's commitment to research and consulting has established him as an expert on historical properties and building practices.

A historical preservationist and purist at heart, Jon seeks to rescue treasures of the past as well as build and create valuable works for generations to come. To date, Jon has restored over a thousand pieces of furniture and created numerous originals. He has worked to restore major historical buildings, including the oldest framed Quaker Meetinghouse in the country. His devotion to and command of American and European history fuels his talent. Often times, just a few shreds of information or shattered pieces of wood can lead him to the wealth of information his clients seek.

Jon may have come a long way from that little boy with the toolbox, but he has amassed a vast amount of experience and expertise in a comparatively short amount of time. Today, he carries with him the time-honored skills, driven work ethic, and tradition a fifth-generation woodworker brings — along with a modern vision and passion for his life's work.