The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Feb. 26, 2024

Cooper Farms celebrating 85 years

VW independent staff/submitted information

OAKWOOD — This year, Cooper Farms is celebrating 85 years as a family owned and operated farm and food company. It has grown from a small turkey hatchery started in 1938 to a diversified, vertically integrated turkey, hog and egg company that has stood the test of time in an ever-changing industry.

Cooper Farms prides itself on forming lasting customer relationships and producing the highest quality meat and egg products for private label retail and food service companies.

“Our company was founded on a handshake mentality, with a focus on doing the right thing all the time,” CEO Jim Cooper said. “It’s humbling to see the growth of Cooper Farms and all that we’ve accomplished, with the help of great partners, leaders and team members. I am pleased to see these next generations, both Cooper family and team members, stepping up to leadership roles and seeing us through these next phases of growth.”

Cooper Farms started in 1938 with 300 turkeys in Oakwood when Virgil Cooper took over the farm, after his mother’s passing. By 1948, a hatchery had been built where the Cooper Farms Corporate Office now resides. In 1974, Virgil and Virginia Cooper’s sons, Jim and Gary Cooper returned to the farm to work with their dad full-time.

“When I came back we had maybe 30 team members,” Cooper said. “Today we have about 2,400 team members, plus the 375 family farmers who help us raise our turkeys, hogs and chickens.”

The Cooper family recognizes they have advanced as a company thanks to team members who make up Cooper Farms and the communities all around them.

“We’re proud to maintain a culture rooted in family values where every team member is treated like family,” Corporate Secretary Dianne Cooper said. “My parents always made sure to treat their team right and give back to the community.”

Through the company’s continued growth, Cooper Farms gives back to the communities that surround the company through the Cooper Family Foundation. Through the foundation, Cooper Farms provided $2.4 million in donations to local organizations in the past five years.

“We try to keep the money in the local communities,” General Manager Greg Cooper said. “We make a point to support the township trustees, fire departments, EMS, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sheriff departments, libraries, schools and fairs – anything that has a real value to a community.”

Over the past several years the poultry and pork industries have faced several disease and food quality challenges. Cooper Farms’ invested approach to vertical integration and biosecurity has helped them to navigate these challenges along the way.

“We know there’s always room for improvement and continue to focus on biosecurity, animal care and food safety,” COO Gary Cooper said. “We also feel strongly that vertical integration as a company has been integral. We are able to have confidence that quality and biosecurity procedures are maintained at every step of the process, from the feed mills and farms to the ready-to-eat products.”

Over the past 85 years, Cooper Farms has maintained a “never sit idle” mentality, pushing themselves to consistently look for ways to improve processes, quality, safety and animal care.

“Being innovative in the way we do things, always looking to improve our processes, is part of the reason our company has been successful,” Gary Cooper said. “We were founded on a can-do attitude and we will continue to have that mindset in the way we do business moving forward.”

POSTED: 03/05/23 at 10:01 pm. FILED UNDER: Business