Interview with Ray Anderson of Interface Inc.  

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Alt Energy Stocks has an interview with ex-Interface CEO Ray Anderson on sustainable enterprises - Interview with Ray C. Anderson, of Interface Inc..

AES: Can you please define for our readers what your vision of a sustainable enterprise is?

Anderson: At Interface, we’ve defined our vision as follows: To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, product, place and profits — by 2020 — and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence. For us, as a manufacturer, it means primarily focusing on processes and products that move us away from petrochemicals and towards renewables, to create a closed loop via which our products are born and re-born, again and again, and reinventing commerce so that we move away from “stuff” and towards a service economy.

AES: What drives you to want to be sustainable? Do you do it because it’s the “right” thing to do? Is it primarily about controlling your costs and finding new sources of revenue? Is it all of the above?

Anderson: We’ve learned that it is indeed all of the above – so right, so smart. Over 15 years we’ve demonstrated that sustainability is a better way to a bigger and more legitimate profit. I’m driven by a personal sense of legacy, to be sure, but also to the entrepreneurial opportunity that preserving our world for future generations represents.

AES: In your experience, how does the financial community view corporate sustainability? Does anyone outside of the Socially Responsible Investment community care? Have you encountered much skepticism?

Anderson: In the early days of our journey, we definitely experienced skepticism from the financial community. In fact, our former CFO Dan Hendrix (who is now the Interface CEO) was asked on more than one occasion if I had “gone ‘round the bend.” I explained that as a leader, that was my job, because ‘round the bend is where our future lies. I went around the bend once before and found carpet tile technology, and that worked out pretty well for us.

Today, skepticism has given way to a high regard for Interface’s leadership in sustainability. Rather than bury it in a product brochure, we lead with it, on Wall Street, in our annual reports, and with our customers.

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