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1950s Employees

History

Over 85 years, Cooper Farms has developed a rich history rooted by family values, dedicated team members, and growth. Take a look at how we've evolved over the years.

1938 2
1938
Cooper Started Raising Turkeys

Virgil Cooper begins raising turkeys with his mother. At this time they were raising about 300 turkeys, mainly for the holidays.

1938
Virgil Cooper married Virginia Rockey

Virgil Cooper married Virginia Rockey

1941
Virgil and Virginia moved to Oakwood

Virgil and Virginia moved to Oakwood, Ohio

1942-1945
Virgil expands

During this time of World War II, there was a government incentive to produce meat. Virgil had grown his flock to 10,000 turkeys per year during this period

1944
First hatchery purchased

Virgil & Virginia purchased their first hatchery in Oakwood, Ohio. With their increased flock size, no one hatchery was able to supply the Coopers with the number of poults they needed, thus they were having to source with many hatcheries. This hatchery had been one of their suppliers. Purchasing it was a way to be certain they would have the poults they needed

1946
Ralph Cooper Joins as Partner

Virgil's brother, Ralph, came from being a manager of a Sears store in Indiana to partner with Virgil. Because Ralph was good at selling appliances, the two deicded to expand the business. Not only was their store in Oakwood a hatchery, but they began also selling appliances, furniture and household goods

1948
First phase of new hatchery

After outgrowing the original building in town, the Coopers began construction at the family farm north of Oakwood, on what was to be the first phase of a new hatchery

1953
First expansion of hatchery

The Coopers made the first expansion on their turkey hatchery and continued to expand it until 1987, when they built a new hatchery

1964
Apple Creek Purchased

The Fuller Farm (now known as Apple Creek) was purchased

1965
Barn built at Apple Creek location

An 18,000 square foot barn for hens was built at what is now Apple Creek. This location remains in use today as a tom farm and is the origin of the barn and windmill seen in our logo. This was one of the first remote egg producing farms owned by the company

1966
Willow Springs Purchased

The Adams Farm (now known as Willow Springs) was purchased. Another 18,000 square foot hen barn and a small tom barn were built.

1969
More hatchery space

Added more hatchery space in response to the need for more incubator and hatcher capacity

1970
Businesses Split

Ralph and Virgil decided that it would be in the family’s best interest to divide the business between the two of them. Ralph took the store and appliance business in town and Virgil took the hatchery and turkey business north of town.

1974
Jim Cooper Joins Company

Virgil & Virginia’s eldest son, Jim, leaves his job teaching elementary in California and comes home to join the family business in June.

1974
Gary Cooper Joins Company

After attending Bowling Green State University, Gary, the youngest of the three children, moves home and joins the family business in December.

1976
St. Clair Mills Purchased

Cooper Hatchery and the Staugler brothers purchased St. Clair Mills. With it, they acquired a feed mill and growout business of 900,000 turkeys per year.

1978
Chicken Layer Business Begins

St. Clair Mills and Coopers start in the chicken layer business.

1978
Virgil and Virginia Retire

Virgil Cooper decided it was time to retire, leaving the company to his three children.

1980
Dianne Cooper Joins Company

Dianne, the middle of the three children, joins the family business

1984
Virgil Cooper Passes Away

September 28, Virgil passed away. He had led his bsuiness through the ups and downs of the industry; since his death, the family has continued to keep that dedication going

1987
Another hatchery built

Built another hatchery down the street from the other to accommodate all the eggs they would now have from the new breeder farms being built.

1987
Land purchased for St. Henry Plant

In the spring, land was bought in St. Henry, Ohio, where the Harvesting Plant would sit.

1987
Construction on St. Henry Begins

In November, construction began on the St. Henry Turkey Harvesting Plant

1988
Automatic egg gathering

Began installing automatic egg gathering systems at the breeder hen farms

1991
Van Wert Plant Purchased

Bought the Rager plant in Van Wert, Ohio

1991
Dry Storage in St. Henry

A dry storage addition was constructed at the St. Henry Turkey Harvesting Plant

1991-1994
Remodeling of Rager Plant

Extensive remodeling was done to convert the Van Wert plant into a cooked meats plant. Cooper Farms brought the building up to spec, put machinery in and gradually added ovens

1992
New Feed Mill in Fort Recovery

A new feed mill (known as the North Mill) was constructed in Fort Recovery, Ohio. With additional turkeys needed to supply the Processing Plant, feed manufacturing had to be increased. The 145 foot tall concrete structure was placed two miles north of town and had the capacity to manufacture 450,000 tons of feed per year.

1993
Chiller added

A separate chillder room was added to the St. Henry Turkey Harvesting Plant

1994
Focus on Deli Meat

Focused Van Wert Plant's business on cooked deli meats

1994
Hogs at Cooper Farms

Cooper Farms began raising commercial market hogs

1995
First market hogs sold

Cooper Farms begans selling market hogs

1997
Automation on poult line

Began automating the poult service line at the Hatchery in Oakwood

1997
First Sow Farm

Built first sow farm, Rose Grove, in the Oakwood area. This was Cooper Farms' first attempt at producing their own weaned pigs

1999
St. Henry Expansion

St. Henry Harvesting Plant was expanded to add a fabrication room, cooler, loading docks, new offices and a new break room

2000
Stork line added

The stork line deboning was added at the St. Henry Harvesting Plant

2002
Tornado destroys Van Wert Plant

An F4 tornado hit Van Wert, Ohio in November and destroys the Cooked Meats Plant

2003
Plant rebuilt, business resumes

Tore down remains the tornado left of the Van Wert Cooked Meats Plant and completely rebuilt the building. By June the Cooked Meats Plant was running again. The new 72,000 square foot building was designed to have the capacity to cook up to one million pounds per week and had two rooms with state-of-the-art Clean Room Slicing capabilities.

2006
value added in St. Henry

The St. Henry Harvesting Plant enhances capabilities with four value-added cells, a product cooler and more dry storage

2006
Controlled Atmosphere Stunning

The Controlled Atmosphere Stunning was installed at the St. Henry Harvesting Plant

2006
stud farm in Antwerp, Ohio

A hog boar stud farm was built in the Antwerp, Ohio area. This farm enabled Cooper Farms to control the health of their herd in all stages of the process

2007
St. Henry Renovations

The St. Henry Harvesting Plant renovates their evisceration room

2008
New Chillers

St. Henry Harvesting Plant removes old chillers and replaces them with new and improved chillders, increasing their capacity to cool

2008
Van Wert Addition

The Van Wert Cooked Meats Plant adds a 30,000 square foot expansion, increasing weekly to 1.3 million pounds

2008
North Mill Expansion

The North Mill in Fort Recovery expands their facility, adding 1,214 more tons of storage for feed processing

2011
HPP added in Van Wert

The Van Wert Cooked Meats Plant adds a high pressure pasteurizer in the remaining space of the 2010 expansion, providing a high quality pasteurization process for sliced product

2011-2012
Van Wert Wind Turbines

Three wind turbiens were installed at the Cooked Meats location to supply clean energy to run the plant. Combined, they provide about 75 percent of the plant's electricity needs

2013
Fox Tail Built

Fox Tail sow farm was built in Defiance County. This is the first farm built with group sow housing and marks the company-wide transition to open-pen gestation

2014
Bio Building in Oakwood

In August, a Biosecurity Building was added in Oakwood. This addition was a key component to maintaining animal health for farms in the Oakwood area

2014
Fort Recovery Equity Purchased

Purchased Fort Recovery Equity, a chicken egg-laying cooperative. The purchase included a feed mill, 75 additional team members and 40 pullet rearing and egg-laying contract farmers

2014
Perham Ohio Purchased

Purchased Perham Ohio jointly with Weaver Eggs. This egg breaking plant, then changed to CW Egg Products, provides the opportunity for value-added liquid egg products

2014
Clemens Partnership

In December, a partnership was announced with Clemens Food Group to build a fresh pork processing plant in Michigan

2015
Sandy Ridge Opens

Sandy Ridge Gilt Farm opens. This farm will raise gilts to maturity and provide the sows for Pheasant Run Sow Farm

2016
Pheasant Run Opens

In April, Pheasant Run Sow Farm opens in Defiance County. This is the largest sow farm built with group sow housing.

2016
Partnership with Everside Health

In June, Activate Healthcare, now known as Everside Health, a third party primary care provider, partnered with Cooper Farms and opened three clinics that are free to all team members who are on Cooper Farms' insurance

2017
Robotics in Van Wert

In January, Van Wert Cooked Meats Plant starts to utilize three robots for boxing, stacking and tracking product

2017
St. Henry Distribution Center

In February the completion of a large addition at our St. Henry location was announced. This included a cold storage building and distribution center, new office space, and offal/pet food building.

2019
Hemmelgarn & Sons Acquisition

Acquired Hellegarn & Sons egg production facility, now known as Central Egg Processing

2019
Ashley Biocenter

Ashley Biocenter was opened in Ashley, Indiana

2019
Grand Republic

Grand Republic, a 5,000-head sow farm, opened in Edgerton, Ohio

2020
Hog Expansion

Expanded our hogs to 840,000 annually

2021
CW Egg

Acquired full ownership of CW Egg, LLC and rename to Cooper Farms Liquid Egg Products

2021
Golden Heritage

Began construction of Golden Heritage Cage-Free Egg Farm

2022
Golden Heritage

As of September 2022, Golden Heritage houses 1,630,672 layers

2023
Golden Heritage

Golden Heritage begins full proudction, holding 2,000,256 birds

1930s
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
2010s
2020s
Celebrating Our 85th Anniversary

Celebrating 85 years as a family-owned and operated company.

85th anniversary