PBS honors success of Wish Farms

07/17/2013 01:19:00 PM
Mary Kastor

PBS TV interviewed Gary Wishnatzki, chief executive officer of Wish Farms, about the history of the family owned business in its fourth generation.

Gary Wishnatzki is the grandson of a pushcart street merchant, Harris Wishnatzki, who began the business in the early 1900s. Harris worked with another pushcart peddler, Daniel Nathel, and the business rapidly grew to what is now a $100-million company.

The interview aired at the end of June, and focused on the growth of the company and the challenges it faced.

It began as one push cart in New York, one pushcart became many, and then the company became a wholesaler. Around 1937 the business duo moved from New York to Plant City, Fla. Along the way they picked up business. Harris Wishnatzki died in 1955, and Gary Wishnatzki’s father and uncle took over the business until his father died and his uncle retired.

Gary Wishnatzki grew up working in the business, and in 1974 he went to work for the company full-time. In the 1980s the company added berry growing as opposed to just marketing and distributing.

“That gave us a nucleus of supply that we could count on from year to year,” Gary Wishnatzki said. “We have had several growth spurts over the years; modernizing in the 70s, becoming growers in the 80s.”

More changes came after the Wishnatzkis split from the longtime relationship with the Nathel family, Gary Wishnatzki said.

“Businesses can get caught in a death spiral, always doing the same things the same ways they have always been done, and that is very dangerous,” he said. “I think we are good at innovation. We take chances and we aren’t afraid to fail.”

The full interview is here.



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