The produce delivery truck of a North Fork farm recently got a makeover: It now features a photograph of 14 of its employees, most of whom are migrant workers.
Paulette Satur and her husband, Eberhard Müller, co-founders of the 250-acre Satur Farms in Cutchogue, said they spent thousands of dollars to wrap a 26-foot truck with the image, in which they "stand proudly" in the field alongside the farmworkers, most of whom are Latino immigrants.
"The idea was to show people who is working hard, growing and harvesting the food they eat," Paulette Satur said. "It's us, it's them."
"We thought it was important for people to know, acknowledge and be thankful for the hard work these workers do."
Satur Farms employs 20 full-time farmworkers on Long Island. The company also owns a 200-acre farm in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Migrant workers like those employed by Satur Farms, "are what make this great country turn," said Müller, adding that most of the employees in the photo showcased on the delivery truck have been with the company for decades.
Satur Farms, a producer of baby lettuce, spinach, arugula and other vegetables, was founded in 1997. Since then, migrant workers have been a key part of the business, many becoming "like family," said Müller, who was born in Germany.
Ree S. Wackett, a senior business adviser at the Small Business Development Center at Stony Brook University, said while Satur and Müller's intentions may be to display pride in their employees and company, some may interpret the action differently.
Business owners should be mindful of how their actions may be perceived by the potential customers, she said. "As a general rule, it's often best to keep business and personal convictions separate."
"But if a business owner feels strongly enough about an issue or feels that a particular stance is at the core of the ethos of their company, the next step is to be prepared to defend that position and be OK with the possibility of losing business. It's always a risk; the question these entrepreneurs need to ask themselves is, 'Is it worth it?' "
Wackett added that if the workers were not immigrants and people of color, the decision to put the photo on a company vehicle might not be as potentially controversial.
Satur and Müller said they considered the possible repercussions but chose to move forward by shining a light on their workers.
"We know all this could backfire and we could be highly criticized," said Satur.
Müller adds, "We expect a grumble or two about it. We've got to take the good with the bad, sure. But as of now, our driver has reported hearing nothing but glowing compliments. We hope that continues."