OSI Group is marching across the globe as one of the premier food processors with an extraordinary range of capabilities. Their rise to prominence is a compelling story as they began more than 100 years ago as a corner butcher shop. It also encompasses interesting aspects of America’s amazing growth trajectory during the twentieth century. The journey a small family owned shop took to become an ultra-modern global corporation was accomplished over the course of decades and is still being written.
The rich tradition of immigration in America was the foundation of what would become OSI Group. Otto Kolschowsky emigrated from Germany to find a place in the land of opportunity and settled in Chicago. It was there in 1909 that he opened his corner butcher shop and meat market. The business did well and he enjoyed serving local citizens in the nearby neighborhoods.
The first opportunity for expansion was undertaken when Kolschowsky entered the wholesale meat trade. This happened near the end of the first World War and was indicative of his mindset of building the best business possible. Otto & Sons became their name when Arthur and Harry Kolschowsky began to manage the business alongside their father.
A fortuitous encounter with an icon of American business happened in 1955 and led to an era of continual expansion. Ray Kroc of McDonald’s selected Otto & Sons to be his meat supplier to the first franchise location in Des Plaines, Illinois. With this handshake agreement, both small, family-owned businesses were on the cusp of extraordinary growth.
The relationship has stood the test of time as both companies prospered into something special. Today, this key partnership is still very important to what would become OSI Group. In 1973 the company built an entire plant to satisfy the demand of McDonald’s and they became one of only four suppliers for them.
Sheldon Lavin was a skilled banker and investor who had close ties to Otto & Sons. In 1975 he became a partner who helped them expand into international markets. That same year they changed their name from Otto & Sons to OSI Group to reflect this new direction. Furthermore, Lavin acquired the company when the sons reached retirement age. The growth patterns of the company have reflected Lavin’s vision and skilled use of finances. They have successfully expanded into Europe and Asia among many other places. Their capabilities are among the world’s most advanced food companies and include production and culinary creation and more