Collection of Late Visionary Environmentalist and Interface Founder Ray C. Anderson Finds Permanent Home at the Georgia Historical Society

Ray C. Anderson

Atlanta, Ga., September 2, 2015 – The Georgia Historical Society is pleased to announce that the collection of the late Ray C. Anderson, the visionary industrialist, environmentalist, and founder of Interface, Inc. has been donated to the permanent collection of the Georgia Historical Society Research Center.  This important collection was donated by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and Interface, Inc.

“This is a collection of significance to future researchers. Ray Anderson was not only a pioneer in his industry, but he also possessed the conscience and character to step out from the crowd and take the risk to prove that sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “As a people, we are on a trajectory where a hundred years from now sustainability will be commonplace, and scholars will want to know where and how it all started– the Ray C. Anderson collection will provide the insight and inspiration into the life and work of one of the founding fathers of the industrial environmental movement.”

Ray C. Anderson founded Interface, Inc. in 1973 with a vision to provide flexible floor coverings for modern office buildings. By 1983 the company was posting sales of $11 million annually, and following the 1987 acquisition of Heuga Holdings B.V. became the undisputed world leader in carpet tile manufacturing.

A 1956 graduate of Georgia Tech, Anderson experienced an environmental epiphany in 1994, and challenged the company, which at the time was heavily dependent on petrochemicals, to become environmentally sustainable without loss of profits. His ultimate goal, in his own words, was “to be the first enterprise in history to become truly sustainable – to shut down the smokestacks, close off effluent pipes, to do no harm to the environment and take nothing not easily renewed by the earth.”

Today, Interface is a $1 billion publicly traded company (Nasdaq:TILE) with manufacturing on four continents and sales in more than 110 countries. Despite the loss of its visionary leader in August 2011 when Anderson died, the company remains committed to its Mission Zero® pledge to eliminate its environmental footprint.

The collection contains approximately 150 cubic feet of artifacts, artwork, audiovisual materials, awards, correspondence, meeting materials, notes, pamphlets, photographic materials, reports, speeches, and writings. The collection also contains Ray C. Anderson’s book collection, which focuses on the topics of environment, sustainability, and business. The collection was accompanied by a gift from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation to process and endow the collection —ensuring its care and accessibility for generations to come. GHS staff is currently in the process of arranging and describing the collection and it should be open for research by the fall of 2016. Researchers and students wishing to access the collection once processed may do so by visiting the Georgia Historical Society or by contacting the Georgia Historical Society Research Center in Savannah.

 

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Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
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