Pete & Gerry's Organics
Sometimes the path forward means you have to go back. For Pete & Gerry's Organics egg farm, this is exactly what happened in order for the farm to survive.
CEO Jesse Laflamme, 35, is a fourth-generation farmer who transformed his family's farm (Pete is his cousin and Gerry is his dad) into the organic and cage-free egg farm it is today. The company sells two brands of eggs: its certified organic eggs and Nellie's cage-free eggs (named after Laflamme's childhood pet chicken).The company has experienced exponential growth of roughly 35% a year over the last 13 years, Laflamme says. But the company wasn't always doing so well. Laflamme's grandfather started the family's original egg farm, Ward Poultry (a spin-off from the family's larger diversified farm), shortly after returning from World War II. Hens were able to roam where they liked. It wasn't until the larger agriculture industry began using cages in the mid-1960s that his grandfather also installed them, Laflamme says. "It was about efficiency and it was about scale and in order to keep up, he had to implement and adapt and put cages in," he says. By the time, his father took over the farm in the early 1980s, the industry was rapidly consolidating. "Instead of selling to Mom-and-Pop stores, we started to sell to chains. And chains wanted to streamline. If you were smaller, it made it difficult to compete," says Laflamme, who has two children ages three and five. Add in other egg farms that were producing eggs in less than ideal conditions and the business almost shuttered completely over the bad press the industry was getting. But Laflamme's parents revamped the company to represent the exact opposite -- a small, trustworthy egg farm, which evolved under Laflamme into organic and cage-free egg farming. "We made the philosophical choice to not keep a single hen in battery