There was a point in time when Lipman Produce considered hanging a flag in its headquarters for each country represented by team members. “But we couldn’t because there just wasn’t enough room in our office,” says Jaime Weisinger, the company’s director of community and government relations.
As the nation’s largest field tomato grower, Lipman Produce employs some 8,000 people across the country—from Southwest Florida to the Pacific Northwest—many of whom hail from very different places.
“People come from all over the world that work here,” Weisinger says. “You can go to one of our locations here in Florida and you’ll see a huge Hispanic workforce and you can go into one of the packing houses and you’ll see a huge Haitian workforce, then you can go to one of our facilities in Portland, Oregon and you’ll see a Vietnamese workforce. We make it all work; we celebrate all cultures.”
The Lipman founders were minorities themselves, Weisinger says. When Weisinger’s grandfather and great grandfather began the family-owned company in Southwest Florida in the 1930s, they stuck out like bright green tomatoes in a field full of red.
“My family was Jewish and came from New York and that just wasn’t what you saw in an Immokalee farming community at the time,” he says.
But they’ve learned to embrace differences of all kinds.
“Fast forward to today and we’re even more diverse than we’ve ever been. We’ve got not just cultural diversity but we have educational diversity. We’ve got PhDs that work with people with very little formal education,” Weisinger says.
And for staff members who have wanted to better learn the English language, the produce manufacturer has worked with the migrant education system to offer classes.
“I think people who work for us want to be as much of a part of society as they can be and they want to be as productive as they can be, so we do what we can to help them,” Weisinger says.
Weisinger says opening the door for people of all walks of life can only aid in a business’s success.
“If you want to be productive and you want to move your company forward, the only way to do that is to understand where people are coming from and to appreciate those different perspectives,” he says. “We may get to a point in this country where this is no majority, where no race is dominant in this country, and if you want to be successful you’re going to need to be able to work around that.”