The CEO of Interface told members of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce at the February Early Bird Breakfast the company was doing well, despite carpet sales that have slumped since 2008.
“We have had record sales in a tough economy,” said John Wells. “We’re going to grow right here.”
The company has about 3,300 employees, about half those working in this area.
Wells touted the company’s most recent efforts at environmental sustainability, including the fact its carpet tiles are made from 50 to 70 percent recycled materials, and a reduction of water use by more than 80 percent, even as production increases.
Wells also praised company founder, Ray Anderson, who died about 18 months ago.
“He instilled amazing values in all of us,” Wells said. “He stood up and said ‘You’re doing (manufacturing) all wrong.’ That idea was provocative for a lot of years. He made us focus on why. You can still make a profit and have measurable, positive impacts on the community.”
In other chamber news, the annual large business of the year and manufacturer of the year were awarded Tuesday.
West Georgia Health was named large business of the year and Interface got the nod for manufacturer.
Chamber leaders said the 1,400 employees of West Georgia Health donated almost 49,000 hours of volunteer time and contributed more than $900,000 to local scholarships in 2012. The health system generates $293 million in revenue and provides $12.5 million in charity care annually.
“They were among the first 5 percent in the United States to implement electronic records, which allows physicians to access patient data in real time and make quicker decisions for better outcomes,” said Pete Snell, vice president for economic development at West Georgia Technical College, which sponsors the awards. “They recently became one of only 12 percent of national hospitals to use bedside medication verification technology as part of patient care.”
Interface will represent Troup County in April at the annual Georgia Manufacturing Appreciation Week celebration and vie for manufacturer of the year in Georgia.
Interface was recognized for its 1,600 local employees who contributed more than 9,000 volunteer hours last year, gave more than $250,000 to local charities and pledge more than $62,000 to the United Way of West Georgia. The company also brought education programs to more than 7,800 students last year. The company has received international recognition for its environmental sustainability efforts, including the 2012 “Screw Business As Usual” award from Richard Branson and Virgin Unite.
Wells, who was not expecting his company to win the award, was thrilled with the honor.
“We’re excited about being here,” he said. The company has plants in LaGrange and West Point.
“We love the community,” he said. “The pride our people people have in Interface is the same pride they have in LaGrange.”
The chamber also announced plans for a Healthcare Reform Forum, from 5:15 to 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at West Georgia Technical College’s Callaway Conference Center.
Attorneys Chris Cravasse and Susan Steelman from Miller & Martin, PLLC, will speak during the session, which will be moderated by former state Rep. Jeff Brown. Topics covered will include: explanation of the law, timeline of health care requirements, summary of benefits and coverage, claims and appeals procedures, W-2 reporting, grandfathered health plans, women’s preventative services, non-discrimination requirements, small employer tax credit subsidies, employer-provided cover requirements and penalties and coverage requirements and penalties for individuals.
The forum is open to the public, but the chamber is asking those who attend to register, so that proper seating can be arranged. To register, call the chamber at 706-882-8012.