The OSI Group has become a leading provider of food products in the world today with a workforce of 20,000 employees and centers of operations in 17 countries. The company is also a prominent entity in the economic history of America after climbing from the most humble of beginnings to its present position as a world leader in its industry.
The history of OSI Group is one that is firmly entrenched in the experience of the American immigrant.
The story begins with Otto Kolschowsky, a German-born immigrant settling in Chicago in the early 1900’s. At the time, individuals possessing German heritage were one-fourth of the city’s population.
Kolschowsky would go into business for himself in 1909, just two years after arriving in America when he opened a small butcher shop and meat market. A decade later, Kolschowsky’s business was doing well enough that he moved to wholesaling meat products. In 1928 the name of the constantly expanding business was changed to Otto & Sons.
Fortune smiled on Otto & Sons in 1955 when the first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in 1955. A handshake agreement between Kroc and Kolschowsky’s sons made Otto & Sons the first supplier of ground beef for the franchise.
The growth of Otto & Sons coincided with the explosive force that McDonald’s became and in about two decades the company went from being a regional supplier of meat products to becoming the global cooperation now known as OSI Group.
A technological advance that made the journey for OSI easier took place in the 1960’s with the development of flash freezing. This allowed for the quick freezing of food products with the use of liquid nitrogen which added convenience while decreasing costs for companies like OSI.
The first operations plant dedicated solely to the supply of McDonald’s products was built in 1973 and was located in the suburb of West Chicago, Illinois. At this time, the business conducted by Otto & Sons that did not include McDonald’s was shifted to the companies Glenmark brand which continued the company’s tradition of supplying retail markets and regional restaurants.
The official name change to OSI Industries took place in 1975 and signified the complete transformation from the single owner butcher shop started by Otto Kolschowsky in 1909 to 75 years later becoming a major company operating on a manufacturer’s scale. Sheldon Lavin became part of the company the same year and OSI Group had to man who would eventually lead it to the global mega-business status it enjoys today.
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