Ernie Gemperle was born in Switzerland and immigrated to the United States in the year 1949. Ernie arrived with $12 in his pocket. Just like the situation in the movie “The egg and I,” he started a poultry business in the state of Washington, in January of 1950, on a leased ranch with 6000 hens. In 1951 he sold his lease and moved to Turlock were he started building a new farm.
At this time Ernie was one of hundreds of farmers who sold his eggs to Poultry Producers of Central California. Ernie had a knack for animal husbandry and great success with his Gemperle eggs.
In November of 1953, Ernie was drafted into the US Army, and he leased his ranch to a local friend, Bob Guthrie. While he was in the Army, serving during the Korean War, he married Annemarie. In February of 1956, he returned from military service and continued operating his poultry business along with his new wife.
Ernie and Annemarie continued to expand their business. They made innovations that helped produce eggs more safely and efficiently. In 1958 they purchased their first bulk feed tank. This eliminated the back breaking job of moving feed sacks and helped protect the feed from rodents. At this time, Gemperle Farms also started to wash eggs with two Aquamagic egg washers. This significantly improved egg safety. In 1961, Ernie’s brother, Walter Gemperle, joined the company and started the Gemperle family orchards division. The family continued a policy of slow deliberate growth to meet local needs.
Ernie was instrumental in working with other local producers in forming marketing coops, a common feed mill and food safety programs such as the California Egg Quality Assurance Program. In the 1990’s Gemperle Family Farms became a leader in our industry by switching barns to cage-free. Since then, Gemperle family farms have taken the lead in converting barns to Organic, Cage-free, Omega-3 and Enriched environment egg production.