When Otto Kolschowsky a German immigrant in the US opened a small butcher shop in Oak Park Chicago, he did not know that it would grow into a multinational food processing plant. By the time the First World War was ending, he had expanded into supplying meat in wholesale. This small shop in 1909 was the genesis of OSI Group. In 1928, it was rebranded into Otto & Sons but continued to run as a family business till after the Second World War when the economy started to expand rapidly.
It was at this point that Ray Kroc opened through a franchise agreement from Richard and Maurice McDonald the first McDonald’s restaurant in 1955 in Des Plaines, Illinois. Before opening the restaurant, Kroc had first met with Arthur and Harry, Otto Kolschowsy’s sons and entered into an agreement that they would be supplying ground beef to the restaurant. Within a few years, Ray Kroc bought out the McDonald’s and became its Chief Executive Officer. Supplying its ever-expanding outlets became Otto & Son’s primary objective.
In the late 1960s, freezing food with liquid nitrogen was invented. This invention made the work of Otto & Sons a lot easier and affordable as they could be able to transport their products for long distances without going bad. This was necessary because McDonald’s was widening and its suppliers were under pressure to supply fresh and consistent products to the far-off restaurants. McDonald’s consolidated its supply chain, and Otto & Sons became one of the four suppliers.
In 1973, Otto & Sons opened its first freezing plant in Illinois for producing products for McDonald’s as well as the local market. In 1975, Otto & Sons rebranded into OSI Group due to its rapid expansion and to recognize its core business. The next few years saw OSI Group expand and opened its first plant outside Chicago to match McDonald’s expansion. As OSI Group entered the international market, Sheldon Lavin who had joined it earlier as a partner became its chairman and CEO in the early 1980’s.
Over the years, OSI group has become one of the largest food providers in the world. OSI has also diversified into other non-meat products and has operations in over 17 countries. This expansion has been enabled by its investment in research and development to help in the development of new and better products. Research and development also make sure that OSI’s products are safe and of high quality.
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