AVON, Mass., Oct. 12 -- Nebraska billionaire Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the world, has purchased a family owned Massachusetts furniture chain run by two brothers known for their quirky -- and highly successful -- broadcast advertisements. Barry and Eliot Tatelman will share the sale proceeds with their 1, 200 workers, a bonus of 50 cents for every hour they've worked for the company. That amounts to about $20,000 or more for some long-time employees. Under an agreement with Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Co., the Tatelmans will continue to run Jordan Furniture's four-store chain. The sale price was not disclosed, but The Boston Globe said Tuesday furniture stores typically sell for about one year's revenues. Jordan's has sales of about $250 million a year. It has average sales of $1,000 per square foot of retail space, more than eight times the industry average. The original Jordan's store in Avon was founded by the Tatelmans' grandfather, Samuel Tatelman, in 1928. Barry and Eliot took it over from their father in 1973. The chain also has stores in Waltham, Natick and Nashua, N.H. The Tatelmans said they have plans to expand. 'It allows Jordan's to continue to thrive,' Barry Tatelman told the Boston Herald. The acquisition is the latest for Buffett, whose personal fortune is estimated at $36 billion, second only to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. Buffett's investment company in 1992 bought the Nebraska Furniture Mart. It also owns the Houston-based Star Furniture Co., and R.C. Willey in Idaho, in addition to a mix of small firms and stakes in larger corporations.
The Tatelmans said they had no plans to sell when approached by Buffett about six weeks ago. After visiting Jordan's theme stores, Buffett made the Tatelmans an offer without even looking at the company books. In a statement, Buffett said, 'Jordan's Furniture is truly one of the most phenomenal and unique companies that I have ever seen.' Barry Tatelman said Buffett 'assured us that nothing changes,' and that the brothers will continue to manage the company, including appearing in typically silly and sometimes spoofy television sales ads they call 'shoppertainment.' ---
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