Published 2 months ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Companies that challenge the idea of business-as-usual can set the pace of innovation for their peers despite the risk of failure. And you might just unlock a new way of doing business and see ripple effects for years to come.
As we celebrate 50 years since our founding in 1973,
Interface is still considered a
fairly young company. Many of our employees worked alongside our founder, Ray
Anderson. Some were
even around to witness Ray’s famous “spear in the chest”
moment that launched our
sustainability journey as we know it today — ultimately, reshaping our entire
While Interface set out to revolutionize the flooring industry through the
carpet tile, the story of our 50 years in business goes deeper — showing how
sustainability and business performance can exist in harmony.
We believe businesses have the best resources, innovation and expertise to
pioneer sustainability. As an early adopter of this mentality, we have the
triumphs and the lessons to show for it. In reflection of our 50 years, we have
collected those learnings — both to inform our future and to share with
companies on or at the onset of a similar journey.
As we have celebrated hitting key milestones on our journey, we have
internalized the notion that there is no finish line for improvement. Pursuing
more innovative and sustainable ways of doing business should be a constant.
While this thinking can be seen throughout our history, one notable example is
when we introduced our Climate Take
ambition — which aims to reverse global warming — before we achieved the success
of our first sustainability moonshot, Mission
(aimed at having zero negative impact on the environment).
To achieve maximum impact, we knew there was a need to go further — to shift
from a business model of doing no harm to one that actively does
— and to juggle multiple ambitious goals at the same time.
We challenge our colleagues to do the same — identifying new opportunities along
your existing journey, and always setting your sights on how to go further than
you first imagined.
One important question that Ray Anderson asked in the mid-‘90s after introducing
Mission Zero was how to make the business case for sustainability.
Sustainability was new to everyone, not just us — meaning we didn’t have a
tried-and-true framework to follow.
So, we took a chance — with the conviction that trying was non-negotiable — and
set out to build that framework ourselves. As we started to reduce our energy
use and waste, our profits rose and our products improved. We became a living
example that sustainability and a thriving business are not mutually exclusive.
Ray became a full-time salesman for sustainability internally and externally;
and Dan Hendrix, former CEO and
current Board Chairman, built and proved the business case. Together, they
transformed Interface — from how we designed and manufactured products to how
our leadership team was structured.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions you don’t can’t yet answer or set goals you
don’t know how to achieve. Companies that challenge the idea of
business-as-usual can set the pace of innovation for their peers despite the
risk of failure. And you might just unlock a new way of doing business and get
to witness the ripple effects for years to come.
Some of our best ideas and innovations have come from a willingness to look
outside of our metaphorical four walls and beyond our own industry for ways to
improve our processes and manufacturing.
Historically, we cut tiles out of a tufted roll with die cutters — four tiles at
a time. We realized we could improve cutting, save time and reduce waste by
using ultrasonic cutters — a technology used to create airplane wing parts.
As a flooring manufacturing company, it wasn’t intuitive to look for insights
from the aviation industry; but doing so led to one of our most important
innovations to date. Adopting this technology helped reduce our cutting waste by
80 percent. What companies or industries could you be looking to that you may
not be today?
In 2008, we introduced our Net-Works™
— which explored using old fishing nets for recycled nylon — in partnership with
Aquafil and the Zoological Society of London. Through the program,
Aquafil successfully began producing ECONYL® regenerated
— made from 100 percent waste that would otherwise pollute our seas. It performs
the same as virgin nylon and can be recycled, recreated and remolded infinitely.
Today, ECONYL is a sought-after responsible solution for well-known
and interiors brands — including being featured in most area rugs from our
premium design brand, FLOR.
If we are to reach and make progress toward sustainability goals and create a
climate fit for life, we must invest in collaboration. Through partnerships —
even those that may seem unlikely — business can develop effective solutions
that peers and competitors can leverage as a better way of operating.
To make meaningful progress toward your goals, you need everyone. Engage your
employees and give them the power to help identify and apply solutions for
solving your company’s biggest challenges.
In the late ‘90s, after introducing Mission Zero, our leadership team realized
reducing waste and our use of water and energy was going to be a huge
undertaking. As a result, we introduced our QUEST program — which asked
every company employee at all levels to help.
QUEST helped us engrain sustainability into every aspect of our business as
teams set aggressive targets and began sharing knowledge and best practices
globally. It enabled us to reduce our manufacturing waste costs significantly
and, over time, improve financial performance.
The solutions we’ve created would not have been possible without the talent and
passion of all Interfacers. We have proven the value in empowering all our
people to get in the business of creating solutions — and, even better, it
creates a culture everyone can feel good about.
While we take a moment to reflect on our last 50 years as a company, we
recognize there is no time for rest — only deeper engagement.
Our sights are set on continuing to raise the bar for ourselves, for industry
and for the world. How will we do it? We’ll lean on the same principles that
drove us these last five decades — challenging the status quo, learning from our
peers, partnering well, harnessing the power of our people, and identifying new
challenges along the way.
We’ll continue to invest in transparency as an organization, sharing takeaways
and insights with our peers as they work to achieve their bold missions. We’ll
tell you when we win — and even when we fail — so that we can all learn
Thank you for celebrating 50 years with us. We look forward to learning and
sharing many more powerful lessons as we keep growing up together.
Published Dec 14, 2023 2pm EST / 11am PST / 7pm GMT / 8pm CET