Randi Vogel went from entrepreneurship to corporate America to entrepreneurship.
In the summer of 1996, after graduating from Virginia Wesleyan, she and her grandfather sold fish on the corner of High Street and Elm Avenue in Portsmouth six days a week. She did pharmaceutical sales after that and then went on to co-own a business: Virginia Beach's Hunt Club Farm.
"I think the cool thing about the farm is that things kind of evolved, and they're still evolving," said Vogel, who joined the farm in 1999. "Compared to pharmaceutical sales, it's a lot more challenging."
Hunt Club Farm is a year-round operation that offers a petting farm, a farm market, hay rides and holiday-themed events for families. It hosts birthday parties, field trips, weddings and more. It has a base of about 10 permanent employees, but peaks around 125 employees certain times of the year.
Vogel was going through a tumultuous time before she joined the farm. Around the time she quit her job at Eli Lilly, she was dealing with deaths in the family and a divorce.
"I had a lot of stuff going on," she said.
She was led to the farm because she heard about a group sales opportunity and an apartment for rent at the farm. She and her two dogs moved in and it wasn't long before she met J.D. Vogel, whose family had owned much of the farm dating back to the 1970s. The two eventually got married and became co-owners, and Vogel helped transform the operation.
"They weren't using any kind of computers," she said about her arrival. "It was just real old-school."
Hunt Club Farm was a seasonal business, but Vogel and her husband decided to change that. The farm soon introduced a Christmas event, a year-round children's garden, a summer camp and more.
It wasn't easy getting to that point. Vogel said maintaining animals, planning events and expanding offerings can be arduous. Eighty-hour work weeks were common early on, and she recalls one week when she clocked 120 hours.
"We did a lot of things wrong," she said. "But now we have a pretty good year-round program."
Vogel said she's now at a place where she can step back some and let the business cruise somewhat, thanks in large part to a team of associates who have been there many years. The mother of two is spending more time with her sons, 6 and 13, and is taking more time for herself.
"My life revolved around Hunt Club," she said. "My life now revolves around my kids and then Hunt Club."
- Jared Council
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