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Ray Anderson

Ray C. Anderson dies at 77; carpet tile mogul

Ray C. Anderson dies at 77; carpet tile mogul

In the summer of 1994, carpet-tile mogul Ray C. Anderson made a sobering discovery: Although his billion-dollar business was the biggest of its kind in the world, everything about it was wrong.

That realization came after reading "The Ecology of Commerce" by Paul Hawken, the sustainability guru who founded the Smith & Hawken gardening stores. The book led Anderson to reexamine his business model through the lens of environmentalism.

His Georgia-based company, Interface, made carpet tiles from petroleum products. The nylon in the carpets came from oil. The electricity that ran its plants came from fossil fuels. The finished tiles...