A Look At The Rich History Of OSI Group

OSI Group is a Chicago area company with a long and rich history. It was started by Otto Kolschowsky, someone that had emigrated to America just a few years prior. He started the business as a corner butcher shop in 1909 and it is now a multinational business with 20,000 employees in 17 countries. Back in 1909 about one out of every four people in Chicago were from Germany and they built this city into a place that was well known for butchering meat, producing tools, and shipping bales of wheat.

10 years after he started his company he expanded into wholesaling meat. He also brought his two sons into the business once they were old enough and changed the company name to Otto & Sons, a name it would keep for almost the next fifty year. The company was doing very well locally and became pretty well known in the community. In 1940 Richard and Maurice McDonald had established a restaurant in San Bernardino, California which had learned about the then-new concept of franchising and had hired Ray Kroc as one of their franchise agents. He put the first McDonald’s in Des Plaines near Chicago and had formed an agreement with Otto & Sons to supply all of this restaurant’s fresh beef. A few years later Ray Kroc had bought McDonald’s and become its chief executive officer. He had more restaurants around Illinois and Otto & Sons was supplying all of these restaurants with beef patties.

In the 1960s flash freezing became a new technology. This process was extremely helpful in both product expansion as well as reducing the cost of getting beef into restaurants. This process also enabled McDonald’s to reduce the number of their number of national meat suppliers down from more than a hundred to just four companies, one of them being Otto & Sons. This was due to Otto & Sons being very good suppliers for McDonald’s and also because Otto’s two sons, Arthur and Harry, were both good friends with Roy Kroc.

Otto & Sons took on the name of OSI Group in 1975. This same year Arthur and Harry brought in Sheldon Lavin to be a partner of the firm and eventually its CEO. They also started to expand internationally along with McDonald’s. Today they provide processed food, mainly meats, to many restaurants beyond McDonald’s although that continues to be their key relationship.


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