Carpet technology pioneer Spencer H. Wright, head of tufting machinery maker Cobble, died in Chattanooga on May 3, after more than 30 years at the helm of the company. He was 85.

“Spence was a remarkable man, who played an active role in the business well into his eighties, and retained a passionate interest in both technical and commercial issues in the industry,” remembered Geoff Hemingway, who has been managing director of Cobble Blackburn in the UK since 1997 and president of the Cobble USA operation Tufting Machine Company Inc. (TMC) since 2007. “His legacy at Cobble is a dynamic and vibrant company, and our customers and partners can be confident that we will work hard to maintain continuity in the standards he set.”

One of the global giants of the carpet industry, Spencer Wright was an engineering graduate who first worked in accountancy with Price Waterhouse, and after a number of management and executive posts, he joined Singer Corp.’s tufting machine business in Chattanooga, in 1971. He purchased the then Singer Cobble business in 1976, relocating its U.S. activities to Dalton, Ga. At the same time he developed the British-headquartered Cobble business, creating a powerful group in the tufting machinery business.

He also steadily expanded parent company Spencer Wright Industries to take in new interests in automotive, aerospace and civil engineering, and later took over a local bank, becoming one of the best-known figures in the textile and business communities across the Southern States, being inducted into the Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

A memorial service to celebrate Wright's life was held at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, in Signal Mountain, Tenn., on May 7.