Thomas L. Demakes has been preaching the importance of family and education to his three sons for as long as he can remember.

That’s why Saturday, May 19, was circled in red on the kitchen calendar. That’s when Demakes and his sons – Elias, Timothy, and Andrew – walked across the stage together to receive their Master in Business Administration degrees from Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School.

Five-year journey

It took five years for the Demakes men to reach this academic goal. They enrolled in the Business School part time, attending evening classes in the fall, spring, and summer, mostly on campus, but also online. When professors looked on their class lists, they never saw a single Demakes name; they always saw four, because the father and sons took all the same classes.

“Going to school with them gave me the chance to connect with my sons away from work,” said Thomas Demakes, 69, who with his sons operates a family business. “I pushed my sons to do this because I didn’t have the chance to get my master’s degree when I was younger. I was working all the time.”

Family business

Demakes is president of Old Neighborhood Foods in Lynn, a meat-manufacturing company established in 1914. He has been working there since he was 5 years old, when he would sweep the sawdust off the floor. Elias, 34, Timothy, 32, and Andrew, 31, followed a similar path and today work as sales representatives for their father’s firm.

The elder Demakes is a savvy businessman who says what’s on mind – even in the classroom.

“My father knows what he’s talking about, but sometimes he would lecture the class, as well as the professor,” said Elias.

Said Demakes: “I know what the book says, but I’m living this in the real world.”


utting lessons to work

The four Demakeses said they apply what they learned at the Sawyer Business School when they make business decisions.

Their Business School education “helped us to expand our view of the business world and focus on different aspects of how our company can thrive and succeed in these tough economic times,” said Timothy.

“We learned everything from entrepreneurship to leadership,” added Andrew. “The professors were great; they really cared about their students and talked with us about actual business situations.”

The Demakes brothers, all of whom live in Boston, are extremely close.

“My brothers are my two best friends,” said Andrew.

This isn’t the first time that the four Demakeses have completed studies in unison. Father and sons previously graduated together from a two-year real estate appraiser’s license program and a three-year commercial real estate program.

The Sawyer Business School graduate commencement ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. May 19 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston.