Earlier this year, I got the opportunity to talk to Laura Markstein, president of Markstein Sales Co. (a 100-year-old beer and beverage wholesaler in San Francisco) about the company’s efforts to help stop sex trafficking. Among other impressive efforts, Markstein Sales added signage to all of its 75 vehicles to raise awareness on sexual slavery with an easy-access hotline number. It was actually a billboard while driving that got Laura Markstein involved in the issue. From our previous story (also retold in the video below):
“I was driving home from work, and I saw a billboard that said, Stop Human Trafficking in Contra Costa County,” she recalled. “And, you know, I was naïve to think that it didn’t happen in our suburban areas. That it was only a big city problem. And low and behold, it happens in every community all over the United States. I was just shocked. How can this be happening? And coincidentally, a very good friend of mine invited me to an event for New Day for Children. And I said, absolutely. It was a small event, and this young woman spoke and it was just heart wrenching. I just couldn’t turn away. I wanted to do something. I wanted to partner with them, and so that was the beginning of our relationship and I haven’t looked back.”
Markstein Sales Co., which also happens to be the largest woman-owned and -operated wholesale beverage distributor in northern California, was recently awarded the Public Affairs Award by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) for her company’s work helping to end human trafficking in the United States. This award, given to one individual per year — if given at all — was announced at the NBWA 84th Annual Convention earlier this month. As a long-time supporter and sponsor of the local New Day for Children organization that provides funding to help American children who have been recovered from sex trafficking, Markstein took her efforts to a national level during 2021 when her company joined the NBWA’s Distributors Against Human Trafficking Initiative.
As part of its efforts, Markstein installed signage on all of its 75 vehicles that are typically on the roads of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties 14 hours per day, six days per week. The goal of these signs was to raise awareness locally and to provide easy access to hotline information for people that suspect, or know of, human trafficking cases. Markstein also provided personalized training, leveraged from both NBWA and New Day for Children, for all truck drivers and merchandisers so they know what to look out for on their daily routes and in the businesses they serve. Complementing these efforts, Markstein also regularly appealed to other companies around the country to join in the fight to end human trafficking. From the press release:
“Once we learned that our beer and beverage drivers had a unique visibility to many of the prime locations where traffickers often exploit victims, we wanted to leverage our position and do all we could to help fight this tragedy,” said Laura Markstein, CEO of Markstein Sales Company. “While we are proud of the work we have done to help this cause, this is a growing problem in our country and it needs every company and American citizen to do their part to help – whether that be company sponsored programs or simply a watchful eye in someone’s everyday life. These efforts make a tangible difference and we can all do our part to help.”
Human trafficking is a growing problem in the U.S., with more than 11,500 human trafficking cases reported in 2019 alone. California has consistently had the highest human trafficking rates in the United States with 1,507 cases reported in 2019. If you’d like to know about the issue or how your craft brewery might help, read our story right over here. Also, big congrats to Laura Markstein. She deserves it.