Virgil Cooper made his start in the turkey business in 1938 through growing around 500 meat turkeys, mainly for the holidays. Virgil's operation grew quickly during World War II, in an attempt to meet the large demand for meat. In 1944, he acquired one of the hatcheries that had been selling him poults (baby turkeys) for the past six years. Eventually growing out of that small facility in downtown Oakwood, Ohio, Virgil went on to build a new state-of-the-art hatchery in 1948. He built it in a rural area next to his home; allowing him to know there would be room for growth and expansion over the years.
After more than 42 years, Virgil retired in 1980 and handed over day-to-day management of the company, then hatching about 4 million poults a year, to his sons, Jim and Gary, and daughter, Dianne. The new generation has continued to maintain Virgil's focus on quality and innovation raising turkeys in a low stress environment and growing Cooper Farms into one of the largest family-owned turkey processing companies in the country.