Napolean Barragan, Founder & CEO
Mayor Bloomberg gave
Barragan an Outstanding
Individual Award for making a difference with the city’s immigrants.
What one factor is most important to success?
The most single most important factor for success is the ability to act upon your ideas. Everyone has visions, dreams and strategies, but relatively
few implement them.
What do you look for in an employee?
At 1-800-Mattress all employees are required to have the skills necessary to complete the jobs they are seeking and a personal track record of integrity.
But beyond that, we look for employees who understand the importance of customer service, at all levels of our organization, from the warehouse
employee who places a mattress on a truck to our call center bedding consultants who have more direct customer contact. If an employee is focused
on helping the customer, they will be tremendously successful and
so will the company.
What’s the best way to save money?
If you spend wisely, you will save money. For example, over the years we have built a nationwide distribution network of 250 retailers who deliver mattresses for us to customers in areas of the United States where we
do not have our own warehouses. For years, we referred business to these retailers for a small fee. But we realized that 1-800-Mattress was shouldering
the lion share of marketing and operational dollars. So we initiated a
program to convert distributors to franchisees, where they will pay a
larger share of those costs but actually see their revenues rise because theyhave protected territories with more sales. In the end, we benefit by reducing our costs, and the franchisees pick-up more business.
What’s the best way to spend money?
Have a plan! Know why you are spending for something and what you want to
achieve from that expenditure. If you know what results you want to achieve you can track the effectiveness of the expenditure. For example, we spend a considerable amount of money each year advertising the 1-800-Mattress brand. We set a goal of achieving $10 in sales for every dollar spent on advertising. When we began the program, we were probably at a $4 or $5 to one ratio. Today we are at $7.50 to $8. We are not yet where we want to be, but we know we are moving in the right direction. We’ve also learned a lot, such as which media organizations bring us the highest results and what type
of advertising draws the best response. This to me is the right way to spend.
What’s your greatest pleasure?
Family and community. I am very proud that my son, Luis, works alongside me in the business as the president and chief operating officer of 1-800-Mattress. I am also very proud ofthe community involvement we have as a company. We have very active internship programs with Newcomers High School, LaGuardia Community College and St. John’s University. Students have the opportunity to learn about international business and share their thoughts and ideas with us. Likewise, we have an active corporate philanthropy program where we donate mattresses to community initiatives. After 9/11 we donated more than 300 mattresses to the New York City Fire Department. Last year we changed all the mattresses, box springs and frames for the Hoboken, N.J.
Fire Department and for domestic violence abuse shelters in Stamford and Norwalk, CT. After Hurricane Charley in Florida, we sent a truckload of mattresses from our Long Island City warehouse to help those in need.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Prepare myself for the day’s priorities. If I am prepared, I usually have a
How do you deal with stress?
Understand what is causing the stress and then act to fix the problem.
What one lesson do you hope to pass on to your children?
Honor, integrity and the strengthto act upon your ideas. Also, thank God
for the good and challenging moment in life. Appreciate the good ones and
gain the inner strength from knowing you have scaled the challenging times.
How do you bounce back from adversity?
My first business opportunity came from adversity many years ago, actually
in Queens. I was working in a furniture store and came into work one
morning to find repossessors taking inventory out of the store. It seems my
partner had filed for bankruptcy and didn’t tell me. I quickly found an attorney,
got a hearing from a local judge who let me keep the store and the mattresses in the store. It was the start of what is today 1-800-Mattress. Adversity can be an opportunity if you focus on getting past the problem and are not consumed by the problem itself.
What’s your favorite thing about Queens?
I learn from observing people and Queens is a mixture of more than 180
languages and cultures. Just being here is like traveling around the world. It is
also a wonderful place to do business and to raise a family. Napolean Barragan has built the nation’s largest marketer of bedroom furnishings. Before his arrival in New York in 1969, he worked as a factory worker, spent time on a rural farm in Ecuador, and was a high school teacher in Colombia.
This April, Mayor Bloomberg honored Barragan with an Outstanding Individual Award for making a difference in the lives of immigrants in the city.