People Matter - Wish Farms

People Matter

One of the things that I am most proud of about our company’s history is the fact that we have always taken a humanistic approach to business.

People matter.

Harris Wishnatzki was a good businessman and a good person.  The following is a column titled; Paying Tribute To A Courageous Lady, Compassionate Man that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times in the 1980’s:

It is 4:30 in the morning on a wintry day in February.  It is cold at the Washington Market in New York City, then the largest market in America.

The porters while waiting for the produce trucks to arrive are huddled together over little fires they have built in battered garbage cans.  The merchants, many of them wearing long white coats over their regular coats and suits, are standing in their open stores, stamping their feet, trying to keep warm.

The year is 1942.  Suddenly a woman appears.  She also is bundled up with a slightly shabby coat, a shawl over her head.  And yet, looking at her fine features, her smooth hands, one has the definite impression that this woman has not been associated with this rough environment all her life. 

Quickly she darts from store to store.  She buys two boxes of oranges here, five bags of potatoes there, pitifully small quantities for a wholesale market of this magnitude. 

She enters the store of Wishnatzki & Nathel the largest wholesale strawberry dealer in all of America.  “What is it today, Martha?” asks Harris Wishnatzki, standing there in his white coat.

“I will take two crates of berries today, and please make sure they are good ones,” she says.

“Don’t Worry, I’ll make sure, Martha,” says Wishnatzki, as he steps inside his store, where there are hundreds of crates of strawberries, stacked from floor to ceiling.  “Let’s look at this one,” he says, pointing to a crate right in the middle of a large stack.  The porters labor to extract this crate without making the others come crashing down.

He opens the crate and empties a basket of strawberries in his hand.  None are spoiled, neither the ones on top nor those on the bottom.  “This is a good one, take it,” he says to Martha.  “And what about the other?  Don’t worry, I’ll find it for you.”

Never mind that the buyer from Smilen Brothers is standing there waiting to buy an entire carload of strawberries for the many stores they manage.  Never mind that the representative of the great A&P Corporation is waiting, eager to talk about a contract worth thousands of dollars. 

Never mind all of that.  He has to take care of Martha; Martha, who had arrived as a refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria just two years earlier; Martha who runs a small fruit and vegetable store in Brooklyn in order to support two children and a disabled husband.

Harris Wishnatzki is no longer alive.  The firm still prospers in Plant City and is run by his two sons, Joseph and Lester.

Martha has sold her store long ago and is retired and lives in New York City.

This short story is written by Martha’s son as a tribute to a very courageous lady and to a very successful businessman who never forgot that being a compassionate human being is even more important than concluding a profitable business deal.

(Dr. Alfred Schick of Clearwater is a radiologist at Morton Plant Hospital.) 

We should never lose our way on caring for people and having patience.

Wish Farms is headed toward great things.
Gary Wishnatzki

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