Ann Nolan

Plan For The Perfect Home

From One Man Butcher Shop to Employing 20,000: The OSI Story

In 1909 Otto Kolschowsky had been living in the US for two years. A German national Kolschowsky opened a butcher shop in Chicago. In a few years, Otto Kolschowsky moved the business to Chicago’s Maywood suburb and become a meat wholesaler.

After Arthur and Harry Kolschowsky were born the business became “Otto and Sons”. In the mid-1950’s the Kolschowsky brothers struck a bargain with McDonald’s franchise magnate RayKroc to become one of McDonald’s meat suppliers.

McDonald’s business model was built on providing the customer with an affordable product of consistent quality. Flash freezing was one of the methods by which Otto and Sons satisfied McDonald’s standards. By the end of the 1960’s Otto and Sons would be one of McDonald’s four main suppliers of hamburger. From Corner Butcher Shop to Leading Multinational Food Provider.

In 1973 the suburb of West Chicago would become the site of Otto’s and Sons’ first plant devoted entirely to producing meat for Mc Donald’s. The company kept supplying other restaurants under the name Glenmark.

1975 was a pivotal year for Otto and Sons. That was the year the company became Otto and Sons Inc. (OSI). Sheldon Lavin OSI’s current CEO and Chairman joined the company that same year. Mr. Lavin’s involvement in OSI was part of a deal that was made so that the company could receive a loan to expand its operation.

As McDonald’s grew nationally and internationally OSI had to keep pace. Towards the end of the 1970’s OSI began opening new production facilities across the US. The company’s first overseas plants would be established in Spain and Germany.

Taking OSI international required specialized knowledge that Sheldon Lavin has so in the early 80’s he took the helm at OSI. At that same time, the company began branching out and exploring other areas of the restaurant supply business. The opening of an Iowa plant that produces hot dogs, sausage, and bacon is an example of the company’s diversification.

Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s OSI’s growth here at home and around the world continued apace. OSI would establish a presence in South America, Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Pacific Rim.

Today, major restaurant chains like Star Bucks, Burger King, and Subway do business with OSI. The $6.1 billion in sales that OSI made in 2016 earned it a place on the Forbes Largest Private Companies list.

In a century, Otto Kolschowsky’s one-man butcher shop has grown into a multinational company that employs 20,000.

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