In 1956, Mr. Anderson earned a degree from Georgia Tech's school of industrial and system engineering. A West Point native, he spent nearly 20 years in the carpet industry with Callaway Mills and Deering-Milliken in LaGrange. He founded Interface in 1973 and years later moved the operation to Atlanta.
Apparently, Mr. Anderson's vision, inspiration and ingenuity took hold, not only within his company, but amid the carpet manufacturing industry. After he stopped being Interface's day-to-day manager, he served as non-executive chairman and traveled the country delivering speeches on sustainability. He also wrote two books, "Mid-Course Correction," and "Confessions of a Radical Industrialist."
In a statement, activist Ralph Nader called him the "the most knowledgeable motivator, by example and vision, for the environmental movement."
Interface employs 8,000 people and is the world’s largest producer of modular commercial floor coverings. It has sales in 110 countries and manufacturing facilities on four continents. Second-quarter profit rose nearly 70 percent, to $12.8 million, according to a news release regarding Mr. Anderson’s demise.
Dan Hendrix, Interface president and chief executive officer, said the company will honor its founder by continuing his environmental vision.
“He had the courage to try and change the industry,” Mr. Hendrix said, “and he was clearly a visionary."
Additional survivors include his wife of 27 years, Patricia Adams Anderson of Atlanta; another daughter, Harriet Langford of LaGrange; a brother, Dr. William Anderson of Conneaut, Ohio; a stepson, Brian Rainey of Atlanta; five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.