Ann Nolan

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OSI Group Has Grown Into One Of The Largest Private Food Companies In The World

OSI Group has been around for over a century, and its success has been based on a model of rapid expansion since the beginning. It was a German immigrant named Otto Kolschowsky who started the company, and his company was originally a butcher shop and meat market that served Chicago residents. It was during the year of 1909 that Otto began to serve the west side of Chicago, and it wasn’t long before he became a wholesaler along with the other services he provided. When his sons joined up with the business, he changed its name to Otto & Sons. The business thrived for years under this name, and by the 1950’s, the company began to supply McDonald’s, which was a small family business at the time.

It wasn’t long before McDonald’s blew up and became more and more popular, and OSI Group, still known as Otto & Sons grew with it. Due to technological developments, it became easier to produce and transport the food products that McDonald’s needed, and it also became much cheaper. Eventually, Otto & Sons decided to build a plant that would operate for one purpose, and that purpose was to supply McDonald’s. During the 1970’s, Sheldon Lavin joined forces with the company, and Otto & Sons re-branded to become OSI Group.

Sheldon Lavin, along with OSI Group as a whole, decided to make a some large moves to expand the operations of the company overseas as well as in America. This included a spread of new facilities that were built in multiple countries, and it also included a new plant in Utah. The company also began to focus on providing a lot more than beef, and it began to expand its poultry offerings. Part of this expansion saw the company purchasing the British Company, Moy Park, and it also purchased Amick Farms in the process. Near the end of the 20th century, the company also expanded into Australia and India.

In the 21st century, OSI Group has become one of the largest food companies in the world. Forbes has it listed at the #58 spot for the largest private companies in the United States, and it is valued at $6.1 billion. The company now does plenty to maintain its sustainable business model and also works with the local communities it serves to have a positive impact on the environment. As the company continues its growth, there is no doubt that it will remain on top for years to come.

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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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