Ten years ago, Ray Anderson, CEO of carpet company Interface, Inc., had what may well have been "The Spear Heard ‘Round the World" — the "spear in the chest" he says he felt in 1994, when he recognized that his company was a "plunderer of the Earth," as he later put it. Since then, Anderson — in his mid-60s, a man who should be thinking more about cashing in his chips than tranforming commerce — has traversed the globe, preaching the gospel of sustainability, while pursuing an ambitious effort to transform Interface’s products, processes, and business models to reflect his newfound commitment.
Interface is by no means the only carpet company to embrace a strong environmental ethic. Its competitors — Collins & Aikman and Shaw Industries, for example — also have innovated around the sustainability theme, creating new products and takeback systems designed to “close the loop” by turning old carpet into new. But Anderson’s company, more than the others, has put itself in the limelight — and subjected itself to scrutiny.
An interview with Ray — which covers both Interface’s successes and failures over the past decade — is published in the October issue of The Green Business Letter.