Jim Clardy, whose efforts to help a struggling country from the former Soviet Union led to the formation of the area rug manufacturer 828 International, died April 3 due to complications from a heart attack. He was 50 years old.

Clardy, who served as president of the Greenville, S.C. -based company, founded 828 International in 1993 after returning from a 10-day humanitarian trip to Moldova. He was said to have been impressed with rug weavers he met in the tiny landlocked nation situated between Romania and the Ukraine. He began to import the rugs for sale in the U.S. as a way to assist the economically depressed nation. In the process he established a business recognized for its hand-knotted and power loomed rugs.

Even as the company grew, Clardy continued his humanitarian efforts. A frequent visitor to Tibet, he is credited with helping missionaries there development a rug factory. 828 International said it plans to exhibit samples from the Tibetan factory during the upcoming International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, NC.

The company, which was recognized as one of the fastest growing business in South Carolina, features 28 collections including rugs crafted and designed by manufacturers and artisans in Turkey, India, China, England and Belgium.

"828 International-its employees and salesmen-have lost more than a founder," said John Shepherd, CEO of 828 International. "We've lost a friend, a leader, and a visionary. His presence will be missed, but his passion will continue to inspire us as we move the company ahead."

Clardy is survived by his wife, Martha and children, Caleb and Andrea.