Thursday, January 28, 2010

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist - Ray C. Anderson


Confessions Of A Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose - Doing Business By Respecting The Earth
Ray C. Anderson
St. Martin's Press
Copyright: 2009
978-0312543495

Amazon.com Product Description:

In 1994, Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson set an audacious goal for his commercial carpet company:  to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth.  Now, in the most inspiring business book of our time, Anderson leads the way forward and challenges all of industry to share that goal. 

The Interface story is a compelling one:  In 1994, making carpets was a toxic, petroleum-based process, releasing immense amounts of air and water pollution and creating tons of waste.  Fifteen years after Anderson’s “spear in the chest” revelation, Interface has:

*Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 82%
*Cut fossil fuel consumption by 60%
*Cut waste by 66%
*Cut water use by 75%
*Invented and patented new machines, materials, and manufacturing processes
*Increased sales by 66%, doubled earnings, and raised profit margins

With practical ideas and measurable outcomes that every business can use, Anderson shows that profit and sustainability are not mutually exclusive; businesses can improve their bottom lines and do right by the earth.
 This is a book I was given at a Random House book presentation.

That said, on with the review:
I don't normally read business books (aside from the occasional personal finance book), so I really wasn't expecting to enjoy reading Confessions Of A Radical Industrialist, event though it looked interesting. What a surprise! The first day I was reading it, I ended up reading for most of the day and finished the first nine chapters in more or less one sitting. Since then, I've averaged a chapter a night after work.

Ray C. Anderson has written an interesting book that is easily read by the non- businessperson as well as anyone in business. It's sensible, and inspiring, completely turning a lot of beliefs on their heads. He's also written a book that makes me want to do what little I can to make a difference, just in the way I live.

Granted, I do believe he's right in what he's saying about the way we live today, that we can't keep it up for very much longer. Others may disagree. Still, in doing what he has with his company, and in writing this book about it, he has proven that it's possible to go green and make even more money.

Basically, in this book, the author has charted his change of views to where he stands today, and the various steps he's taken with the company, Interface, to take it to where it is now, most of the way to being environmentally sustainable. Ray C. Anderson also points out what the plans for the future are, and what other companies are starting to do as well.

Some of the things he discovered along the way have me scratching my head in disbelief, such as the fact that a lot of companies can't (or at least won't risk) selling their most environmentally friendly cars outside of their designated areas due to national regulations.

I highly recommend, even if business books aren't your normal reading fare. You may just be surprised.
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