Ohio Farmer

The family-owned northwest Ohio farm and food company is celebrating 85 years.

March 7, 2023

3 Min Read
Gary, Dianne and Jim Cooper
COOPER FARMS: Cooper Farms of northwest Ohio is celebrating 85 years in business. Pictured (from left) are Gary, Dianne and Jim Cooper. Photo courtesy of Cooper Farms

Growing healthy turkeys, hogs, chicken egg layers and producing quality food products has been a tradition for the Cooper family of northwest Ohio for four generations. This year marks 85 years that Cooper Farms has been 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. The family says it 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 says. “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, Ohio, 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 stands. 

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," Jim Cooper says. “Today we have about 2,400 team members, plus the 375 family farmers who help us raise our turkeys, hogs and chickens.”

Team and community support 

The Cooper family recognizes team members and the communities all around them who have helped the company grow.

“We’re proud to maintain a culture rooted in family values where every team member is treated like family,” says Dianne Cooper, corporate secretary. “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 business through the Cooper Family Foundation, which provided $2.4 million in donations to local organizations in the past five years.

“We try to keep the money in the local communities,” says Greg Cooper, general manager. “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.

“We know there’s always room for improvement and continue to focus on biosecurity, animal care and food safety,” says Gary Cooper, chief operating officer. “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, the family says Cooper Farms has maintained a “never sit idle” mentality.

“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 says. “We were founded on a can-do attitude, and we will continue to have that mindset in the way we do business moving forward.”

For more, visit cooperfarms.com or facebook.com/cooperfarms.

Source: Cooper Farms

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