Napoleón Barragán Gives Back

A diminutive, handsome man whose graying hair is combed neatly back from his forehead, Napoleón Barragán, the founder, owner and CEO of 1-800-Mattress.com, imparts some of his creative approach to business — along with instruction on a range of business skills — to students of Newcomers High School in Long Island City and of Queens College, who participate in an internship program he has developed.

From February to June, students come to the corporate headquarters of 1-800-Mattress.com, the largest retailer of bedding by phone in the U.S., where they work in departments including marketing, sales, human resources, customer service and legal operations.

"They get the chance to learn how to manage a business, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," says Barragán.

Having immigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador in 1968 at age 27, Barragán feels an obligation to give back, particularly to other Latinos trying to make it in the U.S.

"I'm grateful to this country but I don't forget where I came from," he says. "I say [to the students], 'If I can achieve something, you can do better, because you are better prepared.' "


Napoleón Barragán, fundador de 1-800-Matress recibió la Condecoración Nacional al Mérito en Nueva York

Napoléon Barragán de 1-800-Mattress

1-800-Mattress: Founded by Napoleon Barragan with $2,000

Because a Guy from Ecuador Can Sell Soda Off the Back of a Donkey, Then Come Here and Build a $120 Million Business—All It Takes Is a Few Mattresses and an 800 Number
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