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Barry & Eliot of Jordan's Furniture Tell Bentley Grads to Think Outside the Box

May 18, 2003

WALTHAM, Mass. - "Be a little different; balance your life and remember: it's not all about the money."

Thus was the advice given to Bentley College graduates by Barry and Eliot Tatelman of Jordan's Furniture Saturday morning during the college's 84th undergraduate commencement ceremony.

The brothers, CEO and president of the furniture retailer founded in Waltham in 1918, reminded the graduates that they were among many other new graduates entering the business world and that they would have to be innovative in order to be successful.

"Everything has been done; but not everything has been done right," said Barry Tatelman, making reference to the attention Jordan's Furniture pays to every detail of their retail stores - down to the color of the painted lines in their parking lots (pink). "This gives you an opportunity to go out and do something better, something different, to own the customer & If you do things like everyone else, you will get results like everyone else."

"You need to get out of the box and think about things in different ways," added Eliot Tatelman. "That is how we got to the financial success we have today."

The Tatelmans also reminded the new graduates that their focus should not merely be on financial success.

"Real success is balancing your life," Barry said. "We know lots of very, very wealthy people who are miserable. Money is not everything.

"Selling sofas is very nice and it pays the bills, but giving back to the community is more important."

The brothers, known for their innovative marketing and retail stores, gave an equally unconventional commencement speech - walking among students, asking questions and rewarding answers with Frisbees. The Tatelmans are familiar faces to many Bentley students and their families who see the brothers in Jordan's television ads.


Daniel P. Burnham, chairman and chief executive officer of Raytheon Company, called on McCallum Graduate School graduates to be mindful of ethics and the customer during his keynote speech during the afternoon ceremony.

"Put integrity first," he told the graduates. "This is the foundation on which businesses and careers are built. Situational ethics will not work."

Burnham also reflected on his 35-year career and lessons he learned about listing to customers and working with people outside of his immediate team.

"Venture beyond your cubicle, whether it is physical, departmental or psychological," he said.

During the undergraduate ceremony, Barry and Eliot Tatelman were awarded honorary degrees of Doctor of Commercial Science, along with Bentley College alumnus Edward C. Gonzales '50, retired vice chairman and executive vice president of Federated Funds; and Antonio R. Sanchez, chairman and CEO of Sanchez Oil & Gas Corporation.

During the McCallum Graduate School ceremony, Burnham was bestowed with an Honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.


At the undergraduate ceremony, 953 Bachelor of Science degrees, 24 Bachelor of Arts degrees, 6 Associate of Science degree and 17 certificates were granted to 1000 students from 29 states and 29 countries.

During the McCallum Graduate School ceremony, 247 Master of Science degrees, 240 Master of Business Administration degrees and 51 certificates were conferred. In total, 538 graduate students from 21 states and 49 countries graduated.


The Gregory H. Adamian Excellence in Teaching Awards were presented to Brigitte W. Muehlmann, associate professor of Financial Planning & Taxation, and Jane D. Tchaicha, adjunct associate professor of Modern Languages. Bentley bestowed two Scholar of the Year awards - to Associate Professor of Marketing Pierre Berthon and Associate Professor of Economics O. David Gulley. The Joseph M. Cronin Award for Excellence in Academic Advising was presented to Karen K. Osterheld, senior lecturer in Accountancy.

Student honorees included Gregory J. Spyropoulos of Peabody, MA, winner of the Professor Robert J. Weafer Award for Undergraduate Academic Excellence and Vladimir S. Barouttchiev of Boston, MA, recognized as the Outstanding Evening Student. Cafer Sadik Abalioglu of Allston, MA & Istanbul, Turkey and Frank A. Buczel of Waltham, MA, were recognized with the Professor E. Williams Dandes Award for Graduate Academic Excellence during the McCallum Graduate School commencement.


Barry and Eliot Tatelman are the public faces and corporate leaders of Jordan's Furniture, a nationally known four-store furniture retailer with headquarters in Avon, MA. Founded by their grandfather in 1918, the Tatelmans took over the business in 1973. Their innovative combination of entertainment and shopping has turned a local furniture store into a major retailer, drawing customers from all over New England.

Both brothers are on the boards of the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange and the Massachusetts 911 Fund. Barry is the vice president of the Anti-Defamation League and serves on the board of the Genesis Fund, a nonprofit organization that raises money for the treatment of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases. Eliot and his wife run Camp Miracles and Magic, a one-week summer camp for children with HIV/AIDS.

Daniel P. Burnham is chairman and chief executive officer of Raytheon Company in Lexington, MA. He was appointed president and chief operating officer of Raytheon in 1998. Burnham joined Raytheon from AlliedSignal, Inc. where he most recently served as vice chairman and a member of the board of directors.

Burnham is chairman of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, a member and past chairman of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, a member and past chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association executive committee, and a member of The Business Council, the FleetBoston Financial Corporation Board of Directors, and the board of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.


For a transcript and video of commencement speeches and detailed information on the graduates, visit the Bentley College 2003 Commencement web site at

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit

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