In Memoriam

August 8, 2011

About This Blog

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of our beloved founder and chairman, Ray Anderson today, August 8, 2011.

Ray waged an epic battle against cancer that reflected his strong spirit and his tenacity. Our time with him was too short, but the time that he had was enough to see his family grow, to welcome his first great-grandchild, to see not just one vision but two become real: to see his business flourish and his vision of a sustainable Interface become a beacon for other companies to follow. We’d have liked to see Ray standing beside us as we reach that metaphorical peak — the top of Mt. Sustainability — but rest assured that we will stay the course and keep Ray’s vision alive.

I know you join me in offering Mrs. Anderson, Mary Anne and Jaime Lanier, and Harriett and Phil Langford and their families our sympathy, and in keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. Ray’s family and the Interface family appreciate your sharing your thoughts here, with us and with one another.

Dan Hendrix, President and Chief Executive Officer, Interface, Inc.




158 Responses to “In Memoriam”

  1. Candace Says:

    We mourn the loss of a true pioneer and dear friend, but more so celebrate the life of a man who has changed the world for the better.

  2. Shauna Sylvester Says:

    I learned about Ray’s passing through Twitter. Within minutes tributes started to pour in through facebook and on twitter for our sustainability hero. Ray was an incredible corporate giant, carving a new path, a future-oriented path for others to follow. I never knew I could learn so much from a corporation about caring for the earth and its finite resources. Ray Anderson touched so many of us and his legacy continues through his amazing company and its staff (not to mention his incredible family).

  3. David Says:

    Ray was a leader and inspiration to us all. I had the pleasure and luck to work with numerous times over the past 10 years. He significantly shaped my life and all of my close friends and family.

    The world lost a very special person today, but his memory will live on for decades to come.

  4. Renee Powers Says:

    Thank you, Ray Anderson ~ a true green giant and my hero. In the 80′s I spec’d/sold a ton of your carpet tiles because they were an awesome product; and when you “saw the light” after reading Hawken’s ‘The Ecology of Commerce’ and became a “recovering corporate plunderer”…you awoke in me my passion for sustainable systems and green building. Thank you for being the catalyst for my right-livelihood and for your gift of igniting our revolution. May you rest in peace.

  5. Mike Baker Says:

    I first heard of Ray Anderson and his vision when he presented at a sustainability conference in Ottawa, Canada in 2001. His message and his vision and his will to walk the walk of environmental responsibility has stayed with me ever since. There are few people on this planet who have given me hope for a clean future. The more I learned about the depth and breadth of his plan and its implementation at Interface, the more I realized that there was much more to it than hope. You folks at Interface are to be commended for buying into Ray’s dream and carrying out. One man’s motivation has been multiplied by 1000′s. A great story; and a life well lived. God blessed you Ray Anderson. Thanks for passing your blessings on to the rest of us. Mike Baker, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.

  6. Huston Eubank Says:

    Ray, you were one in a billion. You changed the world, and lit a fire of hope and action in thousands and possibly millions of people. That’s the kind of hero this planet needs. Thank you.

    • John Picard Says:

      Well said…you have know Ray a long time and you are one of the few who always got it!
      On my way to say goodbye to Ray now…I have never been this sad in my entire life.
      John Picard

  7. Austin Wandkar Says:

    At this hour of Ray’s demise our visionary ,leader towards susutainbility,I want to share my heartfelt CONDOLENCES to Mrs Anderson & his entire Family
    Let his Soul rest in PEACE in the feet of ALMIGHTY LORD
    Have courage to face this situations & we are all with entire family in sharing your irrepairable loss, which no words can fill in.This Planet has LOST a Great Green leader & we all will strive ,continue to reach Mt ..Sustainbility Highest Peak,
    We all pray God to giv Mrs. Anderson the strength.

  8. Amory Lovins Says:

    Ray was the most visionary, inspiring, and effective green industrialist of the late 20th and early 21st century if not of all time.

    Introduced by Paul Hawken, I was one of the acolytes who had the honor to support and learn from Ray for about the past 15 years. We all celebrate the time we had with him, and will carry on his work.

    Today we’ve all lost a remarkable leader, mentor, and friend, and RMI has lost a treasured emeritus Trustee. But in his powerful ideas and their effect, Ray will never die. There will be no end to the good he has done and continues to do for us all.

    • Matthew Grocoff Says:

      “There will be no end to the good he has done and continues to do for us all.” Thank you Amory for the hopeful comment. As Ray frequently quoted you “If it exists, it must be possible.” Ray proved what was possible – and today I feel even more deeply inspired to share his mission with all will listen.

      As I sit in my 110-year-old historic net-zero energy home, with my two-year old daughter sleeping upstairs, I can only hope that others will hear Ray’s clarion call for a Mission Zero. I take comfort in knowing that Ray’s legacy will make the world a better place for my little girl and all humanity.

  9. Vikanda Swasdiburi Says:

    We shall not walk on your footprints, but will continue following your footsteps. You were the inspiration to many, most of them you have never met – yet. Thank you for your contributions to making this world a better place for our children. Rest in peace.

  10. Scott Grierson Says:

    To use his own poignant words, Ray’s passing represents a ‘spear in the chest’ for so many of us, being such a powerful inspiration, humble pioneer and role model. It is at once a spear of pain to have lost such an icon and fundamentally great human being, yet even at this time is also a motivating ‘call to action’ for all of us who remain to pursue his legacy ideal of sustainable commerce.

    If the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose, then his many successes are ultimately worthy of nothing short of profound thanks and rapturous celebration! Thoughts are with his family and loved ones today.

  11. Agustin Lucardi Says:

    Thank you Ray for all that you’ve taught us and inspired us! I was lucky enough to tell you this in person a few months ago…..

    i’m very proud to work for Interface and thus to make us every day a step closer towards that zero negative, 100% possitive company you wanted Interface to become.

    May you rest in peace, our thoughts are with those of your loved ones.

  12. Matt Sackree Says:

    Having worked for InterfaceFLOR for 10 years, nothing can prepare you for losing the inspiration and the glue behind what holds this amazing company together. We must all now ensure that Ray’s vision becomes a reality in our everyday actions across the Interface world and that his memory maintains the glue and direction we all travel together. Thank you Ray. My one regret is that I never got to meet you in person. RIP

  13. Simon Goldsmith Says:

    I saw Ray speak at a conference 10 years ago and then as now he stood out as a leader, one who was authentic in his passion to create a business that could do good without doing harm. I hope many others follow in his footsteps and take his legacy, hope and vision forward.

    You will be missed but your spirit and ideals will live on. Rest in Peace.

  14. Leonora Oppenheim Says:

    I was so very sorry to hear about Ray Anderson’s passing last night. He was an exceptional pioneer and true inspiration to many many people working in sustainability around the world. He will be deeply missed by our generation who is still in need of innovative business leaders such as Ray.

    He took great risks with his business to make it better, healthier, more intelligent, more resilient – and succeeded! As a designer, I have been particularly inspired by Interface’s amazingly successful use of biomimicry in design.

    My thoughts are with the Interface family. I know you will all do an amazing job of ensuring Ray’s legacy lives on and his teachings continue to spread.

  15. Darlene Bowles Says:

    I have known Ray for 40 or more years and I have been his employee for the
    past 25 years. Long before Interface Ray’s vision had an impact on me
    and my dream was to someday work for him. My dream came true I hope to
    see Ray’s dream come true in 2020 and to know that I had a small part in
    making this happen.

    With great sadness I say goodby to Ray.

    My condolences go out to Mrs. Anderson and Ray’s two daughters and their

  16. Richard Hurding Says:

    Thinking about the meaning of this moment I realized that it is a pause and not a stop. Ray put the ship in motion, but we have to get it there. Think of him, be inspired, inspire others by being ‘Ray’.

  17. Sara Render Says:

    Ray is a real loss to the world, but his was a life lived well and he leaves behind a fantastic legacy in one of the world’s most sustainable businesses and evidence that high ethics are entirely compatible with commerce of the highest standard. He will be missed.

  18. Ramon Arratia Says:

    How many times he told us ‘keep on climbing son’? During the last hours this phrase appears on my mind.

    We will get to Mt sustainability, Ray, we won’t let you down.

    My thoughts are with your family and the rest of Interface.

  19. Chuck Westbrook Says:

    It was my pleasure and honor to know Ray for forty years. Ray was not only a brilliant man of vision and a founder and leader of a great company but also a warm and caring and good man. I will miss him. My heart goes out to family and friends for whom I pray that God will comfort and bring His peace which passes all human understanding.

  20. Gareth Kane Says:

    I don’t have many heroes, but Mr Anderson was one. A true green business leader and a gent. A very sad loss.

  21. Gayle Smallwood Says:

    Ray Anderson was the antithesis of “big business” in so many ways. He always said he felt a real responsibility to the people who worked for him and for their families. So it’s no surprise that when he realized the impact his company was having on the earth – and how that would affect generations to come – he was compelled to do something about it. The same drive and intensity that fueled the creation of his company is also what revolutionized not just Interface, but our industry and ultimately business in general.

    When I came to Interface in 1999, I remember how surprised I was that the leader of such a large company would come through the offices and the plants and speak to people. I don’t just mean perfunctory hellos but really addressing people one on one. He wanted to be connected to the people who worked for him and he was. Because of that his goal of sustainability became our goal. At Interface Mission Zero is REAL, just like the man who first believed it could happen.

    I don’t know if there are other business leaders who inspire real love, respect and devotion from their employees, but I hope somewhere there are. We do love him and he’ll be so missed. He was amazing and we were blessed to know him.

  22. Glynda Thor Says:

    Thank you, Mr. Anderson, for the influence you have had on me. I am honored to have met you and heard your story. We all owe you a great debt for the positive change you have made possible because you demonstrated that it IS possible.

    I send my sympathy to Mr. Anderson’s family and to his Interface family. I know that he walks with God today, who must be immensely proud of his servant and steward of the Earth.

  23. Ralph Walker Says:


    We all have Heroes. Some come from our childhood showing us things we never thought possible. Others come later in life making a tangible difference in our world small or large. Some heroes are close friends or family members, others are men and women larger than life who we only see at a distance. In all heroes we see something that we do not see in others, a will, a determination, an ability to do something that we were not sure was possible yet they achieved it.

    One of my heroes died today.

    Ray Anderson was a bold innovative thinker who walked the delicate balance between best for business and best for practice and took it to another level. He set the bar for himself and his company so high that he was quite sure he would not see it achieved, but marched on driving Interface to move towards a Zero Environmental Footprint. He changed the design world, he changed business and he set a new agenda for how we examine progress.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Ray only once, but his voice and his drive stay with me. I can only hope to live up to the challenges he set forth. If you don’t know Ray, now is as good a time as any to learn a bit about him. The man was a true believer who walked the walk. Per his mantra ‘Do no harm’.

    Humbly yours

  24. Tracey Rawling Church Says:

    I wasn’t lucky enough to meet Ray Anderson but was inspired by his book The Radical Industrialist, which I think should be compulsory reading for all business leaders. The comments from his colleagues demonstrate how much he was respected and admired, and how well he had embedded his vision into the company and its culture. I’m confident that InterfaceFLOR will continue to show us all how we can “do well by doing good”. My sincere condolences.

  25. Anand Acharya Says:

    I will never forget practical learnings from your articles , lectures and implementation and try my level best to help in achieving “Mission Zero”, God Bless Soul of my Hero ” Ray C. Anderson”

  26. Tim Gieseke Says:

    Very sad news. I used Ray’s quote “The economy is the wholly owned subsidy of nature, not the other way around” on page 1 of EcoCommerce 101, a book I recently released. I receive compliments for using that quote as it sets the stage for the direction for our future. I have never seen it expressed clearer or more succinctly. Thank you Ray and my condolences to all that feel a great loss.

  27. Eric Harrington Says:

    Ray Anderson was responsible for a major shift in my career path, onto the road of sustainability, upon which I walk today. Hearing him speak for the first time opened my eyes to what the future could hold. I was fortunate to have the pleasure of working for and learning from Interface for a short time, and will always carry his message where ever I go in life. We need more of our leaders, political and industrial, to read his books and hear his message. We must carry the torch forward.

  28. Aart van Veller Says:

    We will miss you. Ray Anderson: An Appreciation” And many thanks for your companies support and trust in #CleanDrinks

  29. Lois Vitt Sale Says:

    The first time I met Ray, I held his hand like he was a long lost friend I hadn’t seen for awhile. I doubt he ever met anyone who didn’t feel his compassion and warmth. He was a man who had his eyes wide open and his heart too. And he was an optimist. He believed that we can face the challenges we perceive and conquer them and he set about showing us how it could be done.

    He showed us business does not have to be in conflict with either ecological or social choices, that in fact, good business does not lose sight of its moral imperative – his phrase “doing well by doing good.”

    Ray left a legacy that will continue to inspire us for our lifetimes and he left an army of people with open eyes and hearts to continue his important work. I am so saddened at his passing and so hopeful that the gifts he gave to all the people he touched will take seed and grow. It is time for us to care for tomorrow’s child as Ray did.

  30. Andrew Fynn Says:

    Ray Anderson’s life means so much more than almost anyone knows, except perhaps his family and loved ones. He has changed the world for the better in truly massive ways. Always in our hearts.

  31. Dirk Boll C & E Europe for InterfaceFLOR Says:

    Ray was a leader and inspiration to us all. Some of us had the pleasure and luck to work with him over the last years. We will miss him and the spirit he gave to us. Doing well by doing good.
    The world lost a very special person, but his memory will live on for decades to come.

    Our condolences go out to Mrs. Anderson and Ray’s two daughters and their
    families !

    Dirk Boll on behalf of the Interface Central & Eastern European Organisation

  32. Nancy Durkee Says:

    When I think of Ray, I think of this quote from his book: “Unless somebody leads, nobody will. Why not us?” Thank you Ray for your leadership, and providing the inspiration for so many others to pick up the torch.

    My sincere condolences to Mrs. Anderson, the Anderson family and the Interface family.

  33. Tanya Charles-Brown Says:

    Ray was truly a pioneer and a inspiration to everyone who knew him. I was very fortunate to work under his leadership for six years. His vision and legacy will go unmatched.

    My condolences go out to his family and to the Interface family.

  34. Bruce Brooks Says:

    As an Interface associate, I’ve had the real privilege of working with Ray several times over the years, and walked away each time with greater admiration and respect for his passion, commitment and leadership to providing products for our customers in a way that considers the impact we have on the environment and on future generations. He knew that business had a critical role to play in helping our world become more sustainable and lived a shining example for all comanies to follow.

    Ray is the embodiment to me of true leadership because he led by example and challenged all of us at Interface to commit to our sustainability mission and goals in our own time and by our own convictions. He knew that we would change the world…”one mind at a time,” and we are doing just that because of his vision. Ray, we love you and will miss you, and we are better in so many ways for having known you and having you as our leader.

  35. Holley Henderson Says:

    Profound appreciation for each moment and inspiration. Ray’s eternal flame lights a spark in each of us. My most heartfelt sympathy to the Anderson family and Interface.

  36. Derek Says:

    Ray Anderson was a giant among giants, a hero who’s words, actions and example served as the inspiration that drove us to advance the field of sustainability, professionally and personally. He was a visionary who changed the face of an entire industry and did it with a style and grace few can muster. His loss leaves a void that can never be truly filled, but it my sincere hope that our efforts to live up to his example will honor his name and provide him with a fitting legacy.

    My sympathies to the entire Anderson and Interface families. Rest in peace Ray and thank you for truly demonstrating a life worth living.

  37. Lisa Buchanan Says:

    When I first went to work for Interface I knew this was a different company from any other. In my interview I was asked about my commitment to the environment. Ray was mentioned and I started discovering who he was. I don’t know of many other people who have changed the entire course of their industry because it was simply the right thing to do. This journey has taught me to always find a better, more sustainable way to live and to pass that message on, every day. The journey started with Ray. He will be missed.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Anderson family and everyone at Interface. Let’s keep spreading the message and climbing to the top of the mountain.

  38. Julie eckert Says:

    I had the pleasure to work for Interface for many years. Thru Ray’s leadership i had the inspiration to learn, teach and live by his philosophy of “doing good.” With his vision, working for Interface was a progressive, educational, fun experience that I compare all other companies too.
    Ray has been one of my heroes for many years and will be missed. He leaves behind a legacy that will multiply in many folds for years to come. Your vision will go forward and many things will grow from the seed you have planted.
    My condolences to his family, friends, and Interface family. Ray you will be greatly missed.

  39. Debbie Hindman Says:

    Ray will be deeply missed. He was a warm, kind hearted lovely human being, always thinking of others and working tirelessly to protect our planet. He and Interface’s work were inspirational to us here at Associates III. He blazed a trail that continues to light up the world. His work and legacy will live on and challenge us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones. He will always be in our hearts.

  40. Carmelina Macario Says:

    I never had the good fortune to personally meet Ray Anderson, but I will never forget when I first ‘met’ him while watching ‘The Corporation’.

    What an inspiring man, what a legacy, what leadership.

    You will be missed but not forgotten as we continue the journey up Mt. Sustainability.

    My condolences to his family and friends.

  41. Michelle Dyer Says:

    Ray Anderson is a major reason I am the person I am today. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been had I not received my own “spear driven straight into my heart” by reading his book “Mid-Course Correction.”

    He had a heart as big as his mission. I aspire to be half the person he was. He was a titan of the new industrial ecological revolution, and will be sorely missed.

  42. Aurora Sharrard Says:

    Ray was a true visionary and pioneer who didn’t just figure out what sustainability meant for himself and Interface, but also helped many Interface employees, other companies, and an entire industry not just find their door into sustainability, but be inspired to help others do the same.

    Ray’s legacy will live on in many small and large ways. His visionary ideas laid the groundwork for organizations like ours to initiate conversations with many other green building companies and product manufacturers. May we all continue to learn from his aspiration and use it to inspire others.

    All of us at Green Building Alliance send our deepest sympathy to the entire Interface family.

  43. Kimberly Gavin Says:

    On behalf of Floor Covering Weekly, I would like to offer condolences to the entire Interface family. Ray Anderson was a unique businessman who had a true vision for not only the future of his company, but the future of an industry and the planet. His genius and passion will be sorely missed.

  44. Tony Cortese Says:

    Ray Anderson was one of the finest human beings that I have ever met and my greatest mentor. His untiring devotion to finding a way for Interface to lead by example and show that “doing good” is the best way to “do well” as a company and have a positive impact for all of society stands as one of the greatest social innovations in the last two decades. His impact on every sector of society, especially on higher education, has been legendary. He has inspired hundreds of college and university leaders to make education for sustainability a fundamental goal and has positively influenced millions of students and faculty. The Interface story is a favorite case study of business schools around the world.

    For me, personally, he has been the greatest source of personal professional inspiration and a role model for leadership. I only hope that I can emulate a small fraction of the the life he has led and continue to learn from his incredible gifts.

    All of us at Second Nature and the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment send our deepest sympathy to the Interface family and pledge to do our best to fulfill his legacy by helping to transform higher education to create a healthy, just and sustainable world.

  45. Erin Meezan Says:

    All of us at Interface are incredibly sad today. We have been overwhelmed already by the response and words of kindness and sympathy coming from the many that Ray has touched and inspired outside of Interface – it helps us to hear that he was so special to others and they share our deep sense of loss. thank you

  46. Koann Vikoren Skrzyniarz Says:

    How very saddened we were to hear the news about Ray. All of us who have committed to driving shift in business toward sustainability were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience what a man of courage can contribute to the world. May we all continue to hold his candle, and carry forward his dream, in honor of his willingness to step out, say the truth, and dare to call us to a better future…

    Our send our condolences to his family and our friends at Interface, and hold deepest gratitude goes out for all his leadership unleashed in the world. We will always stand on his shoulders, and he will not be forgotten,

  47. Beatriz Schauff Says:

    It will always be a great honor to be part of Mr. Anderson’s story, by working for disseminate his vision. A vision that must be known and followed by the entire world. The whole team from PR in Brazil send our condolences to Interface, his family and friends.

  48. Barbara Christopher Says:

    My hearts joins the many other hearts as we express our love, appreciation, and beauty of this incredible man. Dr. Anderson’s absence will be felt across ISyE, Georgia Tech, the industry, and the nation. Ray led from such an inspiring and authentic place that has touched us all. I will keep his family, Interface, the industry, and the sustainability movement in my thoughts and prayers.

  49. Marcelle Duthoit Says:

    I joined Interface over twenty years ago and have had the pleasure of talking to Ray during his many visits to the UK. Ray will be sorely missed by all who knew him. I’m very proud to work for Interface and make every day a step closer towards the goal of Mission Zero.

    My condolences to his family and friends.

  50. Kathleen Kelley Says:

    We lost a true human being today, a person with a heart, mind and spirit for leadership, who has left a lasting mark on all of us.

  51. Andrea Learned Says:

    Ray and his story were key inspirations for my own study of sustainable business. He so clearly had a heart and knew how to communicate the human scale purpose and mission behind his work. He will be missed, but wow.. what an incredible legacy he leaves for this field of study and the sustainability movement overall.

  52. Paul King Says:

    I was truly saddened by the news that greeted me this morning . Having worked for this remarkable man and company for over 20 years and having met him on several occaisions his memory will live with me forever .
    I was lucky enough to be with him in Maui and will never forget his face filled with pride and excitement as he looked at us all and told us of this journey he was going to take us on .
    Well Ray , can I say it has been an honour and a pleasure travelling with you towards the top of Mt Sustainability , and I for one will continue your vision and fantastic legacy you have left us with , and I am sure you will be there looking down when we reach the summit . Thank you and God bless .

  53. Paul Paydos Says:

    Truly saddened to learn of Ray’s passing. His ultimate legacy will never be able to be measured, but there is no question that he long ago accomplished what he set out to do in 1994. To lead a restorative enterprise by the power of influence. I will forever be honored and humbled by the fact that I worked for Ray for over 20 years and in some very small way tried to help him take one tiny step up that mountain.

  54. Glenn Thomas Says:

    When Love and Common Sense Combined
    A Poem From Tomorrow’s Child

    Because you cared so long ago
    although you know you’d never know
    If anything you’d do or say
    would make a difference here today.

    Though you saw you’d never see,
    yet you cared so much for me;
    An unknown name, a hidden face,
    a future time and secret place.

    And when you threw away your fear
    like a tired souvenir,
    And learned that being strong
    meant admitting you were wrong

    I marked that day with humankind
    when love and common sense combined,
    And to my benefit unfurled
    a rich endowment for the world.

    Thanks, Ray.

    Glenn Thomas

  55. Majken Bülow Says:

    I have worked at Interface for 15 years and am so greatful for Ray’s visionary thinking and leadership. This has been deeply inspiring and affected and changed the thinking of so many people inside and outside the company.

    It is such a great loss but his spirit will no doubt continue to drive the efforts towards Mission Zero within Interface and inspire other leaders to make the unthinkable possible.

  56. Tina Johnson Says:

    True Leadership takes courage during the times you will stand alone.

    Tenacity in the midst of “Nay-Sayers” and a passion that ignites a people !!!

    Mr. Ray C. Anderson, A TRUE LEADER.., It has been a blessing to have been in your presence.

  57. Lynda Carroll Says:

    You are a hero and your legacy is an inspiration to generations to do good by doing the right thing.

  58. Ken Edelstein Says:

    My father, who has long since passed, was in the carpet industry back in the day that untreated chemicals ran through pipes into creeks around Dalton. I’ve often thought that he would have been inspired by Ray’s approach to manufacturing.

    I feel so lucky to have crossed paths with Ray several times over the years in another capacity, as an environmental journalist. He was, of course, a reporter’s dream — an iconoclast who wasn’t afraid to say the emperor had no clothes, even when he was the emperor. And he was a regular quote machine, so blunt and eloquent.

    More importantly, he truly was an inspiration. You found yourself asking why more business executives haven’t seen what he saw and didn’t do what he was doing. The answer I suppose lies in Ray’s greatness.

  59. Sharlyn Underwood Says:

    Ray, thank you for your courage to lead the way for so many of us. I have so many wonderful memories of reading your books and hearing you speak over the years. I will do my best to inspire others and continue to share your passion. You will be greatly missed.

  60. Michael King Says:

    Sincere condolences to Ray’s family, friends and colleagues…. Very sad news and the loss of a great human being.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Ray in 2005 when he came to the RSA in London to give a presentation at a project of mine. He started by described himself as someone who is “as profit minded as anyone you know” and then sharing his personal journey in the most disarming manner ever. That southern drawl was an unfair weapon! Beautiful :)

    He is probably the person I cite most as an inspiration. That won’t change.

    Love to all his tribe.


  61. Bettye Garmon Says:

    I just heard of Mr. Anderson’s passing and am saddened for the loss of a True Leader in our industry. He said it could be done, when others said no way.

    I first met Mr. Anderson in the middle of the building boom in Charlotte in the 90′s and was literally awed by his willingness to do what it took to get it done. He was a true gentleman (with a little showman thrown in). I will never forget the time Interface was up against several other large carpet tile providers, early in the life of this new product for a very very large, high end corporate project. Interface was the last out of three for presentation. Mr. Anderson came into town to assist his sales agent and us, the dealer on the project. At the end of the presentation, he dropped to his knees, arms out stretched and sang out “We’re the one you need”. I was blown away. A Corporate Giant, not afraid to be human.

    His willingness to be fully Human and recognize that changes needed to be made for all Humanity, made him a Giant in the eyes of many. His Leadership in the movement to sustainability in our industry will never be forgotten.

    The last time I spoke with Mr. Anderson was at our local USGBC here in Charlotte about two years ago. At the end of the evening, he was doing a book signing. I asked him to address it to my grandchildren, not to me. They would be the ones who would benefit from this most remarkable man and his legacy.

    His mind was opened, His heart followed, and he did his part to help change the world. What a legacy!

    My heartfelt condolences to his Family and to all of his work family at Interface.

  62. Jim Durrett Says:

    We are all better off for knowing Ray. He inspired me to do more. What a tremendous gift from one kind, hopeful, visionary person to so many. My thoughts go out to the Interface family and to the ever-growing sustainability community.

  63. steve stenberg Says:

    We first met 42 years ago, several years before Interface was founded, when you agreed to an interview with me for a local area wage survey. In 1974 we met in the stairwell at our church where you responded to my job application for this new company you had recently founded,” sorry, we just don’t need any help right now”. You never forgot because, 3 years later out of the blue came a phone call from Interface asking if I was still interested in joining the Company. Still working for Interface 34 years later, inspired every day by the wisdoms you provided and awed by the what you created, molded, and willed Interface to become. A life well done in the corner where you lived and in the world where we all live.

  64. Kelly Weertz Says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with Ray’s family and friends, as well as all of his extended family at Interface.

    I had the pleasure of learning about Ray while I was in design school several years ago. His foresight and unwavering determination to change the way we approached manufacturing were remarkable.

    3 years ago, I was able to meet Ray in person at a NeoCon party in Chicago. We had what you would call “a moment” in the middle of this crazy dance floor. My reps introduced me and I started telling him how much I admired him and how thankful I was to have him in our industry. I got emotional and very teary, and then to my surprise, so did he. We chatted for a few minutes and then proceeded to join the party on the dance floor.

    He will be sorely missed, but has set a bold example for the rest of us to follow. Thank you Ray.

  65. Patrizia Abate Says:

    Never had the opportunity to share with him but I feeling like I know him very well , his passion and incredible person who shared his wisdom with everybody is a precious gift and message that is carried in the soul , your smiley , energy and his idealism
    His job and time dedicated have marked the destiny of many peoples who have the opportunity to work in this company has been a pioneer in many things but has created within the family, other families struggle Interface, thanks for giving us the opportunity and create our future , his memory will live on for decades to come

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Anderson family

  66. Georgia Kalivas Says:

    I first discovered Ray Anderson through Mid-Course Correction while working on my thesis in 2005. I just had to speak to him and I did one Saturday morning at his home. It couldn’t have been more than a 15 minute conversation but it inspired me and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

    While working on another paper in the library I found Ray again in The Corporation. I had to get the film and then I was able to show and inspire many others with it. Finally, the weekend of my graduation in 2006 in Chicago, I had the opportunity to meet Ray at NeoCon. I got to see and speak with him once again in 2007 at the RMI 25th Anniversary.

    A semester does not go by without me introducing my students to Ray Anderson,the true sustainability hero on a mission. Even though he may not be with us in person any longer, he will always live in our memories and I’m certain Ray will continue on his mission through all of us.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all his family and friends.

  67. John Renesch Says:

    Thanks so much for allowing many of us who knew Ray to post comments here.

    I interviewed Ray in the mid-1990s while Editor-in-Chief at The New Leaders and subsequently got to know him better and better. He subsequently accepted my offer to join a panel I co-hosted for the World Future Society conference in San Francisco, which addressed the subject of consciousness in business – a brave act at that time, perhaps even still today. He wrote some nice endorsements of my books over the years too.

    Despite his cancer, Ray managed to respond positively to my invitation to join efforts with me and my colleagues to create a tipping point in the unsustainable global trends by bringing Interface into the FourYears.Go initiative earlier this year.

    Like many of us outside of the Interface family, I thought he was going to beat the cancer that took his life. As I wrote Erin Meezan this morning, this was probably the denial many people feel when one of their heroes is mortally wounded.

    I did not know any of his family but send them and all the Interface family my deepest condolences for your loss. The world has lost a true champion whose memory, values and courage will be his legacy.

    Best to all,

    John Renesch, San Francisco

  68. Lisa Conway Says:

    Ray and this company have changed my life. Never did I think it was possible to work for a company in which I could be this engaged. Life and work seamlessly meld together. There is a higher purpose here – one of which I am so fortunate to be a part. Ray had a genuine, yet competitive spirit. Those traits aren’t often paired, but ethical sales are the reason I can be successful here.

    My thoughts are with his family. I can only imagine how hard this is, but his spirit and mission live on. We have to prove to him that his journey continues. I can’t wait to see the view from the top of Mount Sustainability. It will be as emotional a time as this one.

  69. Jim Sedlacek Says:

    I have often heard that the true measure of a man is reflected in the lives he affected and the memories that were left behind. it is quite evident that he was a great man.

    Ray was an inspiration to me both personally and professionally and he changed the way I look at life. The first time I met Ray, it was immediately obvious to me that he was a special person. My tribute to Ray will be to emulate his goals, his drive, and his passion for Interface, the Environment, family and life. Yesterday we lost a great visionary, leader, and friend.

    Ray often said “the next order is the heartbeat of the company”, may his memory inspire all of us to make sure that heartbeat remains strong.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family as I know they will miss him.

  70. Valerie Bennett Says:

    Ray has left such a wonderful legacy for us all. I was truly blessed to be an Interface associate for 13 years, and I am so grateful that I had the chance to get to know Ray personally during that time.

    Although today has been a very sad day for all of us who were fortunate enough to know and love Ray, we still need to try very hard to remind ourselves that it was his desire for us to continue to transfer sustainability into people’s lives going forward, with every action that we take, and every decision we make.

    Back in about 2001, when we completed Interface’s first online sustainability report, Ray used to tell me to ‘weave the web far and near.’ I certainly tried to do so then, and I’m still passionate about integrating sustainability into everything I do today.

    My “Tomorrow’s Child” will graduate high school in 2020, and that year is very important to me. I can’t wait to see the amazing things that Interface still has in store.

    Ray and his vison changed my life and reshaped it in so many positive ways. I’m very thankful for that.

    Tonight, I share in the sorrow and loss that all who are, or have ever been part of the “Interface Family” are feeling. Ray will be truly missed.

    To Mary Anne and Jaime Lanier and their family, as well as Pat Anderson and the Langfords, please know my prayers are with you all during this difficult time.

  71. Annette K Stelmack Says:

    With heartfelt gratitude for the gift of Ray! Thank you for your gracious and bighearted nature, your genuine heart and spirit, and your thoughtful leadership as an environmental and social steward. You are a bright light that shines on in all of us. The Anderson and Interface families are in my heart with the deepest sympathy.

  72. Lida Lewis Says:

    Ray was such an inspiration, and the world is truly a lesser place without his presence. I can only hope that I and others can carry on his vision in our own work, to help every place and every space we touch be a kinder, healthier place for all.

  73. Barb Moncrief Says:

    The power of one.
    Ray C. Anderson.

    I know we are all deeply saddened by Ray’s passing yet each and everyone of us so very thankful for how Ray touched our lives and positively changed so many.

    Ray’s message will not fade away. We won’t let it; nor will tomorrow’s child.

  74. Georges Dyer Says:

    When I first met Ray Anderson, he was already a legend in my mind – I knew his story and was inspired by his leadership, and felt like I knew him well. To my great surprise, he acted as though he felt like he knew me well – he was familiar, engaging, down to earth, funny and kind, all in a brief conversation before his keynote. The ways he impacted my life directly and indirectly astound me – he wrote the book that inspired my wife-to-be to go to the master’s program where we met; he was vital to early and continued success of Second Nature, where I work; he was always willing to go above and beyond to support the Education for Sustainability movement; and he led the company – ‘the most important company on earth’ – that gave us all the best examples of the benefits of sustainability and showed us the best way to translate theory to practice. There is no doubt that his legacy of leadership will live on, and when we look back, will mark an important chapter in the story of how we created a sustainable society. For now, we will miss the man very much. My condolences, thoughts, and prayers to Ray’s family, the Interface family, and our extended sustainability family.

  75. James Shaw Says:

    I had the privilege of meeting Ray on a number of occasions. The first of which was in 1999 – some colleagues of mine and I spent an afternoon with him in his office looking out across an autumnal forest landscape of bright reds and golds, under a crisp clear blue sky, towards downtown Atlanta on the horizon.

    That conversation shaped to a high degree the work that my colleagues and I were doing, as it has informed almost all of my work since. I believe Ray probably did more to show the world what a sustainable economy could look like than any other person.

    He inspired me – and thousands of others, around the world. It is in no small part due to him and all the folks at Interface that I returned to my native New Zealand in 2010 to run for Parliament – it is my profound wish that together we can create the conditions necessary for all our enterprises to restore and replenish more than they take whilst providing us with the products and services we need to survive and thrive in the 21st Century.

    Thank you Ray, for your uncompromisingly high standards; for your vision and sense of purpose; for your hope and inspiration. I am privileged to have crossed paths with you. The world is a better place for your having been in it. You truly can rest in peace.

  76. Michael Everson (TTSP) Says:

    The world is a poorer place now that Ray has passed on.

    We must thank him for his vision and determination in the early days of environmental responsibilty awareness. I so clearly remember our conversation all those years ago when he visited the UK to raise our awareness of this all important subject. My condolences to Ray’s family.

  77. Raj Menon Says:

    A leader by far , an icon. Set up a business,petroleum derivative based one , challenged the system to go sustainable when no one really thought about the subject.Today Ray is talked about internationally not only in the industrial circles but in the academia too . My 12th grade daughter in their Envirnmental study class had one session on sustainability and their book had Ray and Interface as good example as how industries should behave. She was all exited and proud and here I’m a proud father Ray , you made all of us proud
    My deepest condolences, prayers to Ray’s family and the extended family of Interface

  78. Lynsey Calder Says:

    I was greatly saddened to hear the news this morning that Ray had passed away.
    I had the pleasure of working for Interface for just over 4 years and still try to live in a responsible manner just as Ray’s words have taught me to do.
    I had the pleasure of hearing him share his vision several years ago and have rarely heard a more inspirational and believable speaker!

    My thoughts are with his family and friends.
    A great man indeed.

  79. Rahim Says:

    You were an inspiration and legend Ray! RIP

  80. Roberto Smeraldi Says:

    The true leader. Ray provided not just inspiration but a real life reference for innovation, also here in Brazil. My condolences to his family, to the colleagues at Interface and especially to my friend Claude Ouimet.

  81. Diana Brown Says:

    On behalf of the ED+C team, our thoughts and prayers go out to Ray’s family and friends. Ray’s vision for sustainablity has helped to change an industry and enriched the lives of so many.

  82. Thomas J Kemper Says:

    My hero and mentor, Ray Anderson. Our world is a better place after you so beautifully graced it with your presence.

    Ray was an awesome inspiration to me and many others working in the realm of sustainability of our planet.

    In 1998 Jim Hartzfeld was Sr. VP of Marketing for Interface, working under Ray’s guidance, as part of the Interface Sustainability Team. I received a call from Jim, asking me to consider hosting a concurrent event (in Dallas), to the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America.

    Ray was selected by President Bill Clinton to Chair the President’s Council on Sustainable Development and the 1999 NTMSA. I joined in that monumental effort, and life for me has never been the same since.

    I was honored to host Ray in 2001, when he came to Dallas to speak to twenty-three CEOs at the SMU Cox School of Business. Ray masterfully, emotionally, and brilliantly shared his story.

    He was a gentle and relentless force in guiding our industrial world toward responsible stewardship of our planet.

    Thank you Ray, for what you’ve taught me, and, for what you’ve taught all of us.

  83. Ainslie Kincross Says:

    Thank you Ray, for leading the way and clearing the path for us to follow. You did good. You’ll be missed. Much love to you, your family, friends and colleagues.

  84. Jane Ammons Says:

    The faculty, staff, and students of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech want to express our deep appreciation for the impact that our alum Ray Anderson has had on our lives, our world, and our collective futures.

    Ray was a visionary leader who “walked the talk” of sustainability. We are fortunate to have known him and benefited from his ideas and leadership. Ray has left an important legacy that touches all future generations on our planet.

  85. Renaud Richard Says:

    Merci, Gracias, Thank you …

    I know that today, in many languages of our unique and common world, there is a mixture of sadness and of a deep feeling of gratitude for the inspiration received by many of us.

    “Maintenant, y’a plus qu’à …” is the french saying which comes to my mind now. Something like, “yep this mount sustainability is high and tough, and yep no clue how to get there, but for sure let’s go for it (now and quickly!).

    Thank you.

  86. Peter Nicholson Says:

    Published on my organization’s blog and weekly newsletter on 8/9/11:

    The Courage to Evolve
    (In Memory: Ray C. Anderson 1934-2011)
    He didn’t have to change course. Ray Anderson, the founder of the Interface carpet company, and a sustainable business pioneer, died of cancer on Monday at the age of 77. Among his many credits (more than 1500 talks, two books, appearances in various documentaries, etc), my favorite was his participation in the movie The Corporation. He was the only CEO willing to appear in the scathing indictment of (over) powerful business. While I’m guessing Ray would not have thought of himself as fearless, this is the way he always struck me. To build a successful company and then, after reading a book (The Ecology of Commerce in 1994), decide to radically turn it on its head takes courage. Ray carved the mold for future sustainability leaders who will now come after him. The one word that keeps coming to mind is integrity. There is so much he didn’t have to do, for which there was no immediate external pressure, starting with changing the direction of his company toward more sustainable practices. It’s too easy to look back and erase the challenge, view the trajectory as inevitable. Acting from his convictions changed not only Interface, but the flooring industry, and business in general, but that outcome was far from certain.

    Ray’s legacy is huge and his death an enormous loss. I feel fortunate to have heard him speak and to have shaken his hand. His passing is a challenge to me, to all of us who strive to make the world more vibrant and resilient. The mantle is shifted, leading the climb to the top of Mt Sustainability, as he called it, is our responsibility. Then again, part of his genius, perhaps, was just that, inspiring so many people to join the journey, knowing he could never get there alone.

  87. Ed Friedrichs Says:


    Little did I know when you invited me to speak on sustainability at the Interface Showroom in Chicago during Neocon in the mid-90s, that I would be preaching to the converted. You had already begun your remarkable journey to change corporate America. Your tenacious drive to prove that by doing good, business would also do well resonated with your corporate peers and gave us architects and designers a new vocabulary and context to make our sustainable designs accessible and acceptable to our clients. Ray, you never really knew the depth of influence you had. You’ve inspired a generation of us to continue your work. We’ll miss you, my friend.


  88. Jeremy Williams Says:

    Deeply saddened. An inspiration to me in my teaching and research on sustainable development for more than a decade. Thanks Ray – you will continue to inspire me and my students.

  89. Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt Says:

    Ray generously offered The Natural Step and me personally his friendship and support some 15 years ago. He called himself a pupil of The Natural Step, inspired both by our way of systematic strategic thinking around sustainability and by the principles which he used to define sustainability for Interface. But at The Natural Step, we certainly consider ourselves his pupils when it comes to responsible, inclusive, faithful, humorous, humble leadership—one that brought soul into business.

    Ray showed that it is possible to take a big competitive corporation working in the old un-sustainable paradigm, create a new sustainable vision of a restorative corporation, and then have the boldness and unwavering commitment to systematically move step-by-step toward that end goal—one that he called the Top of Mount Sustainability. Ray gave us all hope and his legacy will be forever.

    It was a great privilege to be his friend and colleague for so long and he will be sorely missed.

    Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt
    Founder, The Natural Step

  90. mike bertolucci Says:

    I will say my goodby to Ray this evening. I will have him,his teachings and friendship in my heart forever.

  91. John Whalen Says:

    I had been a strategy consultant for 15 years when I had my own epiphany reading Hawken’s book, and knew that I had to integrate an understanding of the interface between the economy and the ecology into my work or quit. I went to a week long workshop on The Natural Step and met Ray, who introduced himself in my small discussion group as ‘a thief and a plunderer.’ My heart skipped about 3 beats in my chest. His honesty, humility, vision, and commitment to radical, some would say impossible, change gave me the inspiration and hope to quit the work I was doing and start building a consulting firm that would aim to catalyze that change and inspire a generation of leaders to follow in Ray’s footsteps on the climb up Mt. Sustainability. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for his courageous example. Thank you, Ray.

  92. Julie Diegel Says:

    I first encountered Ray Anderson while doing research on the internet about sustainability. I have never met him in person. So many times have I choked up while viewing the video in which Ray recites “Tomorrow’s Child”. I hold Ray Anderson up to those who see nothing but barriers to change. Thank you Ray for fearlessly showing us how to love and live the Golden Rule.

  93. Dayna Baumeister Says:

    I had the great fortune to get to know Ray personally through our work with Interface. Ever passionate in all engagements, it has been a fascinating journey watching him and his company adopt a more in-tune with the planet way of being. Ray and I would discuss with vigor over the existence or lack of competition in nature and whether or not using sports and war metaphors perpetuated the old paradigm or if nature’s metaphors could also bring about fundamental change. Watching him embody nature’s wisdom and inspire countless others to live a life worth living is only a small piece of the amazing energy that Ray brought forth. He will be greatly missed, but we should all be reassured that his grace lives on in all that he’s touched.

  94. Keith Gray Says:

    I’ve known a lot of amazing people, but none quite like Ray. It was an honor to work for him. His vision will live on.

  95. Julio Bin Says:

    Ray Anderson will always be an inspiring example that you can be the change. His sustainability leadership is a model to be followed by generations to come and I had the honor to meet him in person here in Brazil.
    He had great influence in my life as a professional and I will make sure that many others will be touched by his message.

  96. Betsy Rosenberg Says:

    After just having absorbed the news of Ray’s passing, wanted to add one more acknowledgement of his wide and deep impact. As a longtime green radio host (TrashTalk, EcoTalk, The Greenfront), I have had the pleasure of interviewing Ray several times and of course, heard him speak many times over the years. Although the speech, and Ray’s trademark lines, grew to be very familiar, I was inspired anew each time I saw him in person. The occasion that had the biggest impact was over a decade ago when he was speaking at a conference in San Diego and my family had traveled with me for a mini-vacation. For some reason I brought my then four-year-old daughter to his speech and at the end, when he read ‘Tomorrow’s Child’ my daughter stood up on her chair and starting clapping along with everyone else. Although she could not have really understood his message, he seemed to be speaking to my only child and in her adorable applause I saw the embodiment of all of tomorrow’s children and tears burst forth. Some 12 years later, in light of the current state of our environment, politics and media dysfunction, I feel these same tears. But having known Ray, his words – in that unique voice and accent – will always live on in me and everyone who heard them uttered, again and again but always with conviction and courage. Over the years I’ve often wondered aloud where are the next Ray Andersons of the world? Hopefully we will see and hear from them soon, perhaps inspired by the self-proclaimed ‘plunderer of the earth’ turned eco-evangelist extraordinaire.

  97. Cameron Hall Says:

    I first heard Ray speak in 2005 at Greenbuild in Atlanta. He was one of three back-to-back keynotes, with Paul Hawken and Janine Benyus. By some luck I was seated in the second or third row, directly behind the three speakers who clearly had great affection for one another and who each expanded on the ideas and themes of the others. It was an extraordinary afternoon and a combined message that has had an extraordinary impact on my work and professional life as an architect and as a human being. Thanks Ray for the inspiration of your stories and the way you exemplified the beautiful power of honesty and redemption. I will continue to carry forward your message in every way I can.

  98. cynthia gauld Says:

    I am sadden with this great loss!
    Ray was a true inspiration to me. In 1995 I was invited to a dinner where Ray was to speak and talk about the future. That night, he inspired me; my thoughts, my creativity and how I designed spaces was forever changed.

    Thank you Ray for all of your knowledge, your beliefs and your inspiration.

  99. Carla Day Says:

    The pleasure of meeting this gentle, thoughtful and passionate man at a Why? Conference came many years ago. In fact, he was my partner, together as “buddies”, for the weekend. I will always remember him and the caring, listening, learning attitude he showed to me and how he allowed me to get to know him just a little bit in return.

  100. Cecilia Kugler Says:

    All of us at CK Design international and particularly myslef would like to extend our condolences to Ray Andersons family, and the Interface family. Every soul has at least one purpose and it seems that one of Rays was to inspire and lead in a more inclusive future, and a renewed respect for our planet. As previous noted, he was a beacon of light and i guess it is no coincidence his name was RAY.

  101. Jonathan Cloud Says:

    Ray spoke at Fairleigh Dickinson University in the fall of 2006, and his talk and the ensuing conversation led to my beginning a fourth or fifth career, leading an incubator for sustainable businesses. His work was courageous and smart and it paid off not only for Interface but also for the rest of us; he showed business and political leaders a way that businesses could become less wasteful and less harmful—and make money doing it.

    His visionary leadership also inspired two conferences, much writing, and the creation of the Sustainable Leadership Forum (see and, a peer networking group for sustainability leaders in both business and the community. His legacy lives on, perhaps in ways he never knew but probably imagined.

  102. Matthew Realff Says:

    I was a young faculty member at Georgia Tech in 1995 when Ray Anderson suggested that faculty at Tech should take more interest in sustainability and how they might support sustainability initiatives through academic research. 16 years later I am sincerely indebted to that initial spark that Ray struck. Ray caused change in those he met and I hope we will all carry that cause forward.

  103. Claude Berube, FIIDA Says:

    I was chocked and sad when I saw the news of Ray Anderson losing his combat against cancer. I met Ray for the first time in 1986 when I was the president of the Interior Designers of Canada and we met several times after. I was impressed by his battle towards a sustainable industrial development and the way he succeeded in leading the trade towards it. One day while we were having dinner at Neocon I said to him “Ray, you should not sell your carpet!” he smiled and said “I guess you think I should rent it”!. With Ray Anderson you did not have to speak long sentences, he could read you. I did not see Ray Anderson for many years since I lived in Dubai and Malaysia for the last 10 years but I can only feel that it was reassuring knowing that he was there somewhere; I guess many will feel the emptiness now. Ray I salute you. Where will we find another man like him?
    Claude Bérubé, FIIDA
    President of the Asia Pacific Design Center (APDC) Shanghai
    Past President International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI)

  104. Leonard Jager Says:

    Changing from a pragmatic successful businessman into an even more successful and inspiring cosmopolitan. Thanks Ray, for the inspiration and for showing me the treasures of biomimicry.

    Leonard Jager
    General Manager Export Sonae Industria

  105. Rodney K. Floyd Says:

    Mr. Anderson’s vision will continue to live on in my classroom through the documentary “The Corporation.” My future classes will always know that this man was an early leader on “going green.” My sympathies to his family and co-workers.

  106. P.J. Simmons Says:

    Ray has been on the top of the very small “wall of heroes” in my mind for years– a man whose paradigm-challenging vision, Titan leadership by example, and grace will endure and inspire for generations to come. I hope Ray’s family and close friends take some comfort in knowing that over the past two years, following his diagnosis, Ray heard from countless people from around the world how profoundly he had inspired them– and I’m so grateful to be among those who did. Ray’s example will remain a beacon of light in our minds, ensuring that our inner compasses are pointed in the right direction: towards what really matters, towards what is “big enough.”

  107. Valerie Thomas Says:

    “How does a forest work?” That’s what Ray asked me over lunch at the Vinings Club. I had just started at Georgia Tech, and we had just met. I continue to think about what he meant by that question; he continued to ask me about it, once a year or so. I know Ray’s challenge, to me and to Georgia Tech and to all of us, is to redesign the industrial system. Thank you, Ray, for thinking big, for asking questions that we don’t know how to answer, and for demanding that we make progress anyway.

  108. Jonathan Fish Says:

    I feel very lucky to have met Ray at the Bioneers conference about 5 years ago. He inspired everyone with the story of Interface’s and his personal transformation, and was such a warm person to get to spend some time with. Many people, including me, have changed as a result of Ray. My prayers and thoughts are with Ray’s family and everyone at Interface. Best, Jonathan

  109. Frances Beinecke Says:

    America lost a great visionary when Ray Anderson passed away. Long before green campaigns and sustainability programs became standard features in corporate America, Ray put his reputation and his company’s financial future on the line to prove that businesses could generate growth and restore the environment at the same time.

    Thanks to Ray’s initiative, Interface, his global carpet manufacturing business—a traditionally petroleum-intensive industry—slashed its fossil fuel and water use by more than half. His example has inspired countless other executives to embrace sustainable practices.

    In his soft Georgia accent and understated manner, Ray liked to refer to himself as “a recovering plunderer.”

    He founded Interface in 1973, building it into a hugely successful enterprise. Then, in the summer of 1994, he read Paul Hawken’s book The Ecology of Commerce and was forever changed. He realized that industrialists like him had been fouling the environment for decades with their “take, make, and waste” model of production. But he also realized that we couldn’t restore the planet without the help of industry.

    Ray set out to create an alternative approach to manufacturing. He made a public pledge to something he named Mission Zero—a plan for eradicating Interface’s impact on the environment. Then he and his colleagues began inventing the industrial processes that would allow the company to manufacture a good product in a greener way.

    Since then Interface’s has cut is fossil fuel usage by 60 and its water usage by 70 percent. The company gets nearly 30 percent of its electricity from renewable power and has succeeded in diverting 74,000 tons of used carpet from landfills.

    A moral imperative seemed to fuel Ray’s work. He once told a Fortune Magazine writer that someday industrialists who disregarded the Earth as he used to would be put in jail. Later, in the 2004 documentary “The Corporation,” he explained why: “Theft is a crime and the theft of our children’s future will someday be a crime.”

    Ray’s passion and proven track record made him a powerful spokesman. I will never forget seeing him transfix 800 people in a barn on Wes Jackson’s farm in Kansas. At the same time, he caught the ear of corporate titans and political leaders.

    I first met Ray when he co-chaired President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development, on which NRDC Founder John Adams also served. Ray’s success as a businessman and an environmental steward gave him the credibility to make the business case for sustainability and to dispel the myth that America had to choose between the environment and the economy.

    Ray often quoted his friend Amory Lovins, who said, “If something exists, it must be possible.” Then Ray would add, “If a petro-intensive company can do it, anybody can. And if anybody can, it follows that everybody can.”

    Thanks to Ray, we now know what is possible.

  110. Dan Gray Says:

    They say you should never meet your heroes; that the experience will inevitably end up being a disappointment.

    Well, thanks to the relationship between Interface and Ashridge, I did meet my hero a few years back at the launch of a joint consulting venture, and I can say that – at least as far as Ray was concerned – nothing could be further from the truth.

    As I wrote immediately after the event, he was immensely inspiring; not only for creating, in Interface, an undeniable example that sustainability and profitability can be perfect bedfellows, but also – having achieved what he and the people of Interface have – his extraordinary generosity and humility in sharing the benefits of his experience.

    And that spirit of generosity is something I benefited from directly too.

    In hope rather than expectation, when I’d finished writing my book, I fished out Ray’s business card and dropped him a line to see if he might be willing to offer me his feedback and – if I was really lucky – an endorsement.

    It was a stone-cold punt, I thought. After all, he was the founder and chairman of a $billion corporation, and I was just some giant, speccy bloke he’d chatted with for 5 minutes over a cup of coffee at Ashridge!

    I was wrong.

    I got a response back from Ray within the day. He was about to head off on vacation for a couple of weeks, he wrote, but would be taking my manuscript with him and would get back to me as soon as he returned.

    And he did – with a lengthy, thorough and thoughtful response – and a lovely quote for the cover to boot.

    Ray: you weren’t just a true pioneer of sustainable business, you were a great human being, and I wish you could have been around to see Interface make it all the way to the summit of ‘Mount Sustainability’.


  111. Jordy Gold Says:

    Ray played a major role in shaping the direction of my life which I have committed to finding a way for us to live on this planet in a way that meshes with our natural world. It was his voice on the tapes of a correspondence course I took in 2000 that came through more strongly than any other. I am so sorry to hear about his passing.

    I was deeply honoured to have had the opportunity to speak with Ray and learn from one of the only true visionaries. My interview with him for Corporate Knights Magazine was easily one my best. I hope this material and all of his other talks and speeches will be heard by every person around the world.

    Now we all must redouble our efforts to ensure that Ray’s dream becomes a reality.

  112. Paul Limb Says:

    I met Ray Anderson up close and in person just once, alone, in a lift, in May 1997, on the final day of Interface’s Worldwide Sales Conference. I wish I had been able to say something constructive, something insightful, but to be honest, I was overawed (and tongue tied) by the man I had listened to during the previous few days be so clear and concise, but above all, hugely passionate, in his vision to make a difference and create a better future for generations to come. For many who were there, it was an emotional and life altering experience and will stay with me for ever.
    Ray’s ethos and management style were clear for all to see and were reflected throughout Interface’s management team.
    I salute Ray who will be sadly missed and mourned by many. However I am sure Ray would say that we should celebrate his life and successes and above all, ensure that the quest towards a sustainable future is pursued by all with the same passion that he showed.
    Paul Limb (Interface Europe Ltd 1990-2000)

  113. Unboundary Says:

    Everyone at Unboundary is deeply saddened by the loss of Ray Anderson. Working with Interface over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to get an up-close look at a company led by a truly remarkable man, with an even more remarkable vision for what business and industry can become. That vision, and the culture Ray Anderson built around it, had a tremendous impact on the direction of our own company. More importantly, it made everyone who works at Unboundary a better person. That hardly makes us unique, because Ray had that effect on everyone, it seems. But it does make us truly grateful, and forever indebted.

  114. Karen Righthand Says:

    I worked in the outdoor industry as a marketing director when I heard Ray give the industry keynote address at our annual trade show in 2005. Who was this gentle, stately man from the south that spoke with no slides, no video, just his voice? He spoke from the heart and when he finished, the large audience of 1,000+ sprung from their seats applauding wildly. I had tears streaming down my face and I knew in that moment that I was changed and would follow him on the course he’d set. Now I have to find the tenacity to keep on the path without him to lead the way. We all owe him that.

  115. Jim Jacoby Says:

    Ray you were my inspiration. Every time I came up with a wild idea, you would always say “Yes, but is it sustainable?” The Eco Mafia will miss you as our leader.

    Jim Jacoby

  116. Juzo Matsuzawa Says:

    Dear Ray,
    Since I joined the team in Tokyo on mid. June 2010, it has passed only one year and two months, unfortunately I had no chance to meet with you.
    However, I saw your smile many times on the cover page of books you wrote.
    It was a week later I joined the team, my boss, Jim (McCallum) gave me a book “Confessions of a Radical Industrialist” written by Ray, and asked me to read the book. It was deeply impressed to me, because I was also a simple person to use nature resources and to throw away endlessly.
    The book is to make me consider about recycle, waste of CO2, etc.
    Thank you so much for your very special thoughts of planet to clean. Juzo

  117. Lesley Ward Says:

    I met Ray at a visionary conference in Puerto Vallerta Mexico in 1995 when he gave a riveting speech on the environment/sustainability when most of us did not know how to even imagine such a “dream”. I welcomed serving with him on The Emory Center for Ethics Board and also highlighting him at our Common Cause Georgia 2008 Annual Awards as are keynote speaker. What an early loss for us, but Ray, thanks for all you gave and most of all for your COURAGE and your creativeness….!!! Lesley

  118. Mark Achbar Says:

    To the family of Ray Anderson and employees of Interface, I offer my sincere condolences on the loss of a person so special to each of us.

    I first read about Ray in a newspaper article around 2000, and was amazed there could be a billion-dollar-business helmed by a man with such a capacity for honest — and public — self-reflection and self-criticism.

    I met Ray in the course of making the feature documentary The Corporation. His was one of the last interviews conducted for the film, and what a stroke of luck that was. Ray became the film’s star.

    Ray was so gracious and generous with his time. Although he told his story hundreds of times a year, he somehow managed to keep it fresh every time, as if telling it for the first time. As a result of our one interview, literally millions of people around the world were introduced to Ray’s attainable vision of sustainability.

    Ray kindly showed up at the film’s US premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. When the lights came on and he came to the front of the theatre to take questions, he received a standing ovation.

    “The carpet guy” left an indelible impression on a huge and still-growing audience, so many of whom specifically mention him in reviews and when discussing the film. Ray’s sections of The Corporation now form part of a curriculum designed for MBA students; one of the film’s greatest accomplishments was infiltrating business schools.

    At a benefit screening of The Corporation in Boston, the food and drink servers all wore the same t-shirt, which bore a quote from the film, “One day people like me are going to end up in jail” — Ray Anderson”. I quickly traded a Corporation t-shirt for one of those.

    The course Ray set for Interface is brilliant and exemplary, and with the perseverance of people he has touched, will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come.

    Mark Achbar

  119. Glenn Says:

    Thanks John- I know what an ecouragement you were to him, especially in the beginning- thanks for your kindness. I’ll see you at the top.

  120. chris coulter Says:

    History will look back on Ray Anderson as a fundamental force in getting us to the world we all want. He showed the power of having a clear vision of the future and has inspired a new generation of leadership that will continue to bring his vision to life.

    He was a giant, instrumental in catalyzing a revolution.

  121. Elaine Says:

    He made a difference, did it with style and grace. Never losing site of his end objectives. We are better for having been touched by his vision.

  122. Jim Hartzfeld Says:

    Thank you, Raj. What most readers may likely miss is that your daughter in in school in Bangalor (Bengaluru) India. I miss my Indian friends.

  123. Tamara Jercha Says:

    I’ve posted my thoughts of Ray Anderson on other sites and while I feel a great sense of sadness for the loss of a man I had not met personally. We can all feel greatly blessed by knowing his work and believing that anything is truely possible if we set our minds to it. Thank you Ray.

  124. Jan Baan Says:

    I was one of the lucky few who had a personal talk with him . I was inspired by one of his lines he had written in my book. “Comrade in Arms”.. Lead by Example…
    A truly idealist and fighter for tomorrows child. Inheritance or Legacy. I wish the family all the best in these difficult times.

    On behalf of my family.

  125. Marilyn Mehlmann, Sweden Says:

    Only three words: thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.

  126. Jim Says:

    A truly great, honest, ethical and visionary leader. Courageous enough to turn his entire business on its head, making it the yardstick by which every other businesses measure progress towards their own Mt Sustainability. We hope the fires Ray has lit under people continue to burn brighter than ever. We don’t have much time, and there is still so, so much to do.

  127. Edna Aguinaga Says:

    Gracias por la inspiracion que nos brindaste, por crear un ejemplo a seguir que fue (y es) ambicioso y optimista, por ser tan emotivo al hablar y convencer a la gente de tus creencias y por defender el futuro de nuestros hijos. Tu familia estara en nuestras oraciones para que puedan superar pronto esta perdida tan grande. Descansa en paz.

    Thanks for the inspiration you provided for us, for creating an example to follow that was (and is) ambicious and optimist, for being so enthusiastic when you speak to convice others of your beliefs, and for defending the future of our children. Your familia is in our prayers, hoping they can overcome this great loss soon. Rest in peace.

  128. Tracy Cook Says:

    A Ray of Light. He desired a lesser impact on the environment. Ironically, he left a HUGE impact on our values, our hearts, our minds and the world.
    I was beyond blessed to work in his organization and experience the journey he started down the path of sustainability. I’ve never admired anyone, nor I will again, like Ray. He intimidated me with his intelligence; warmed my heart with his approachability; inspired me with his words; made me think more deeply about our actions and responsibilities; and made me proud each and every day to be apart of something so much bigger than just making carpet. I always found that I wanted to please him and never disappoint him. He meant that much to us.
    I must thank his family for allowing us to have so much of his time and focus. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but just know that he has left a lasting legacy for his family, the employees of Interface, our industry and the world.
    Thank you Ray with all of my heart. I can’t express my gratitude. You and Interface helped shaped the person I am today. We love and miss you, but we will keep your vision and your dream alive. Mission Zero continues!

  129. Tracy Cook Says:

    I just got chills, Glenn. This is beautiful. Ray is smiling on you once again.

  130. Miriam Turner Says:

    Thank you Ray, for giving all of us here at Interface the opportunity to work ‘with purpose’, as you would say. Your vision of an industrial company trail blazing a sustainable path is what brought me to Interface nearly 7 years ago, and the challenge of making that a reality is what has kept me here. It has been a privilege and we will miss you.

    To Ray’s family, my thoughts have been with you all over this past week. Ray was an inspiration to so many people inside and outside the Company. So thank you for sharing him with us all. The world is a poorer place without him, but his influence will be felt for generations to come.

  131. Bruce Brooks Says:

    In case some may not have seen this, following is a link to the full eulogy in honor of Ray as delivered by Paul Hawken at his service on Thursday, August 12 and reprinted with permission by

  132. Even Says:

    Thank you Mr. Anderson, for your inspiration.

  133. Olga Ribé Says:

    I met Ray few times and it was always a pleasure to listen his speeches, very emotional when talking about sustainability and Mission Zero. He did a great job on the path to Mt.Sustainability and his inspirational vision is still alive. Last time I met him was in 2008 in Barcelona, before I leave the company and I could personally check his great human qualities. I’m sure we will achieve a zero footprint thanks to his HUGE footprint to all of us.
    A great and sad loss for Interfaceflor and the industry in general.

  134. Violeta Archer Says:

    Ray was my mentor, and I’m confident he will continue to guide my path in spirit. . .

    Thank you, Ray, for your inspiration and grace. I’ll treasure your books and continue to do my part.

    Violeta Archer
    InterfaceFLOR Italy 2007-2010

  135. Liz Johnson Says:

    All that we can know about those we have loved and lost is that they
    Would wish us to remember them with a more intensified realization of
    Their own reality. What is essential does not die but clarifies.
    The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.

    Thank you Ray.

  136. Denis Boyer Says:

    A real leader has awakened and free followers. You used your credibility as a business man to show how economical goals and sustainability were not adversaries. You were the living proof that a business man can evolve instead of challenging change and sticking to the old utopian model of profits and spendings.

    Your legacy will not surrender to any social disease.

  137. Laure Rondeau Says:

    People from the Interface team are all people making history, thanks to you Ray ! We are all proud, honoured, grateful, passionate and confident for this Mission we’re working on every day !

  138. Harold Weathers Says:

    Most of us are aware of the wide range of contributions made by Ray to make the world a better place, but I experienced firsthand a sense of decency and fair play that was exhibited in his early life. My first memory of Ray happened on the first day of school in the fall of 1943. My family had moved to the West Point, Georgia area from the nearby textile town of Fairfax, Alabama the year I entered the fourth grade. At recess that day, the class went to the playground which was located down a set of concrete steps. The girls congregated in one area and became engaged in whatever games nine and ten year old girls play and the boys began playing a game they called “Toss-up.” This game involved a sheet of notebook paper crumpled and tossed in the air. The boys would crouch around the paper lying on the ground waiting for someone to snatch it up and run with it while all the other boys tried to tackle him. Being a rather shy person, I sat alone on the concrete steps watching the other children play and wanting to join in their game. Noticing me, Ray left his group and came and sat down by me and began to ask questions about my life such as where had I previously gone to school, did I have any brothers or sisters, where did I live, etc. He then explained the game “Toss-up” and invited me to join them in the game. That early initiative by Ray made me a full-fledged member of the class from that day on. Ray and I engaged in numerous hours of team sports through our elementary and high school years. The culmination was during our senior year when he was the team’s quarterback, and I played at what is today referred to as a tight end. This all began with a piece of crumbled up notebook paper and a young boy who was wise and kind beyond his years.
    Harold Weathers
    West Point High School Class of 1952

  139. Ann Sutton Says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story, Harold. An affirmation of how
    ‘good to the core’ Ray Anderson was…This blog serves as a way for many to congregate and soak up and ‘in’ this great man…your story adds a special richness. It consoles and deepens a connection; it will surely serve to sustain (me) in days and years ahead, as we/i carry on and carry forward the path and message this wonderful man has made and left us. Thank you.

  140. David Physick Says:

    I never had the privilege of meeting Ray. I was, however, captivated by his vision and how he actually realised that vision by seeing his colleague John Picard give the annual Tomorrow’s Company lecture in the UK. I then Ray’s book. I think and act differently now. Rest in peace.

  141. Sarah Gilberg Says:

    The Healthy Building Network’s Executive Director, Bill Walsh, posted a reflective piece on Ray’s passing in our HBNews publication last week.

    “To we who remain, Ray’s passing is startling, a summons, maybe even a provocation.” – Paul Hawken

  142. John Galloway Says:

    I first met Ray at Emory University in early 1996, not even a full 2 years after his reading of “The Ecology of Commerce,” and his eloquence then about the sustainability challenge of climbing such a tall mountain was just as poignant and inspiring to me as his last interviews and talks. I approached this gentle and engaging man afterward and expressed my discomfort about my work in environmental communities that I always felt like I was “preaching the choir” and not making much of a difference. Ray did not miss a beat, grabbed me squarely by the shoulders, and said, in his soothing Georgia accent, “My friend, the choir is growing!!” That moment still gives me chills, brings tears to my eyes, and was quite a pivotal moment for me in my thinking and, really, in my worldview.

    I met Ray the following year, 1997, as an intern in Georgia Tech’s (our mutual alma mater, something Ray would remember about me in our future meetings) Center for Sustainable Technologies conference. As keynote speaker, Ray had refined his message even more, had goals to talk about for Interface, and introduced us to the concept of Mount Sustainability. I was privileged to sit at Ray’s table for awhile during lunch and get to know a bit more about the man who would become a professional role model and a sustainability hero.

    I work at eschewing regrets in my life, though one that arises from time to time is that I did not get to know Ray more personally while I had the chance when I still lived in Atlanta. Ray invited me out to their offices, though I graduated and moved before I could find a time that worked. Nevertheless, I met Ray again at UC Berkeley where I was completing my Masters, and he remembered me right away with a firm handshake, a smile, and “Good to see you, John!” in that familiar Georgia accent. How this amazing being could meet so many thousands of leaders, scholars, presidents — important people! — and still remember my name and our conversation from two years prior was beyond me.

    There are very few people we meet along the road that we can say steered our lives in one significant direction or other. Many teachers and mentors inspire us, encourage us to express our fullest potential, but few can change our core values and shape our very foundations. Ray had this keen and unique influence on me, and I will remain immensely grateful to him. While his temporary form has changed, what he brought to this world is timeless and immortal, a tremendous gift.

    Many blessings to Ray, Mrs. Anderson, and his living family.

  143. Michael Turner Says:

    I met Ray about 15 years ago at one of the Why? conferences. He was incredibly kind and personable. I’m a big fan of sustainability, so it was win-win to specify a wonderful product with a caring, friendly face behind it. His books were wonderful and so was he.

    Ray, you made a profound difference in the way any industry conducts business and you did it with warmth and class. Rest in peace buddy!

  144. Eric Wingfield Says:

    I have followed and admired his inspirational and concrete commitment to sustainability. His efforts have helped me in the easy and the difficult times, often, as I have worked to advance sustainability in my own small way.

    Thank you, Ray.

  145. Jan S. Says:

    My most sincere condolences to Ray’s family, friends and all others who had the privilege of knowing this great man. I wish you all great strength with the grieving process. Rest in peace Ray Anderson. Pioneer, role-model, hero. For those interested I have set up a page as a tribute to Ray Anderson on Facebook.

  146. Glenn Rutherford Says:

    Just reading through the many tributes to a great man! I live in N.Ireland and choose not to be hooked up to twitter etc so only heard of Ray’s death today from a colleague in work shortly after encouraging him to check out the ‘interface’ story, no, revolution! I read Ray’s book ‘The radical Industrialist’ recently and have since recommended it to others interested in ‘finding a better way’!
    Thanks for your vision, passion, leadership and shear determination that leapt of those pages! …..and for the resonating challenge to change my thinking and actions in this world we shared for a time!

  147. Matthew Nicoll Says:

    I would like to thank Ray for being such an inspirational figure and important role model to me. I always hoped that one day I would meet him, as he seemed so genuine and kind. I will forever be grateful to you Ray and will continue to spread your wise words. May Interface succeed in reaching the summit of Mt. Sustainability and in doing so, show others the way. Once again I thank you Ray Anderson.

  148. Tom Butler Says:

    Ray’s passion made me cry. With love. He is tomorrow’s child.