Business Review - Stakeholder Equity

Oct 21, 2021

A successful business owner, Matt O’Hayer, decides to start a company based with a deeper purpose.

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Though Matt O’Hayer had started more than a dozen businesses with great success, he found himself between companies wanting to do things different, with a different purpose.

“This time I wanted to start a business that had a deeper purpose besides just making money.”

This longing coupled with his lifelong interest in farming led to the creation of Vital Farms, with a mission to bring ethically produced food to the table.

“Laying hens were at that point in time were almost all caged… not just caged but caged in really terrible conditions where they couldn’t even stand up or even turn around. 

As a farm owner O’Hayer had a farm with chickens running around in a pasture. The birds were happy, and their eggs were the best he had ever tasted.

“I wondered if it were possible to scale that. At first it was difficult to get the first couple of farmers because who were we? No one knew. But today we have hundreds of farmers who love to come to work for us.”

It was important to Vital Farms that the birds be treated with love and care, farmers to be well paid and produce an egg to be proud of. O’Hayer says his company makes better decisions when all stakeholders are considered as a holistic group. Vital Farms strives to follow the philosophy of conscious capitalism and treat all stakeholders equally.

“We wanted to take care of animals, people, and the planet. We don’t spray our pastures with chemical fertilizers pesticides and herbicides… not only because it’s not good for the hens and could end up in the eggs, but it will… end up in streams which then end up in our rivers which then ends up in our oceans… That may not be tied directly to Vital Farms, but it’s tied to the planet. Specifically, in our agreement with our farmers, they agree to not do that.

The Business Review is a production of Livingston & McKay, and the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.