Andy Mandell ’61 personifies the entrepreneurial spirit of Babson. He co-founded Data-Mail, a direct mail production company in Newington, Connecticut. Mandell built the startup mailing business into a direct-marketing empire. Roughly six million pieces of mail per day flow through Data-Mail for major insurance, finance, health-care, and retail companies across the country.
Mandell’s first experience in business was in high school, selling magazine subscriptions door to door in Newington. He later worked part time at his dad’s small grocery. His father was a successful businessman putting three children through college. “Watching my father gave me the urge to work for myself,” he says.
His entrepreneurial passion flourished at Babson, and he took classes in finance, accounting, and marketing. He chose Babson for its practical entrepreneurial focus and hands-on learning. He remembers Gabriel Kerekes, a favorite professor, offering stock tips. “At Babson, professors were part of your life,” Mandell says. “Kerekes was the kind of person who would walk you around campus saying, ‘This company did this; this company does that; maybe this company would be a good stock.’ Professors at Babson wanted to help you pursue your future. It wasn’t just about theory.”
Mandell began his career at Addressograph-Multigraph, a large Cleveland-based manufacturer of mailing equipment. He climbed the ranks and ultimately started his own mailing business in 1971 with his wife, Joyce, and one full-time employee. Today, Mandell oversees more than $150 million in annual sales and more than 1,000 employees, including two sons and his son-in-law.
While Mandell’s business has blossomed, the company has retained a family-run, neighborhood ethos. That means devoting resources to local charities close to his family’s heart. Mandell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago, and so he and Joyce established the Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research in Hartford, Connecticut. The center is a source of personal gratification. It takes a uniquely comprehensive approach, allowing patients to be evaluated in one location for neurological, psychological, urological, and other symptoms, rather than shuttling between offices and specialists. “It’s a model throughout the U.S. to treat people with M.S.,” says Mandell. “It’s an extremely entrepreneurial venture.”
Mandell is a trustee of the Connecticut Science Center, where the Mandell Academy for Teachers provides professional development for educators in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. In West Hartford, the Mandell Jewish Community Center is a beacon of inclusivity. “One of my real delights is that it supports the entire community, regardless of religion, age, or gender,” Mandell says. “In Hartford, everyone goes there to feel comfortable and to be together. It’s a real gem.”
Mandell extends his philanthropy to Babson. He endowed two faculty chairs, and a dormitory bears his family’s name. “The major reason I give back to Babson is that I want students to live out their dreams,” he says. “Babson is special because the students are very entrepreneurial. They understand the day-to-day world, and they see what the opportunities are to make the world better through knowledge.”
Kara Baskin is a writer in Arlington, Massachusetts.