OSI Group started out from humble beginnings. Otto Kolschowsky, the original founder, migrated to Chicago from Germany in 1907. A short two years after arriving in America Kolschowsky, looking to support his family, opened a butcher and retail meat shop. He prided himself on offering good food service, and that did not go unnoticed; by the end of WWI, Kolschowsky was able to expand into the world of wholesale. By 1928, the business was rebranded to become Otto & Sons. Little did Otto Kolschowsky know that his small store-front butcher shop would later turn into a global corporation.
Business for Otto & Sons would drastically change after WWII. In 1955 Ray Kroc opened the first McDonalds in Illinois. However, Kroc knew that he would need a company to supply his restaurant with quality meat. Otto Kolschowsky’s sons, Arthur and Harry, and Kroc entered into a friendly agreement that the company, Otto & Sons, would become the primary provider of fresh meat to this new McDonalds location. Within a few years, Kroc bought the McDonalds franchise. This purchase caused Otto & Sons to shift their focus from supplying meat to a handful of restaurants to be the main supplier of ground beef for the ever-expanding restaurant.
Over the next 20 years, Otto & Sons turned into a global corporation referred to as OSI Group. This transition started when Otto & Sons had to figure out a way to consistently supply McDonalds with their most popular menu item, ground beef. The creation of flash freezing in the 1960’s is the exact technology Otto & Sons needed to accomplish this huge task. Otto & Sons growth and transition to OSI continued in 1973, when they opened their first factory that was solely dedicated to McDonalds. Just two years later, in 1975, Otto & Sons officially transitioned to become the OSI Group. What was once a small shop in Chicago was becoming a global powerhouse. OSI acquires UK’s Flagship Europe.
In the 1980’s, Sheldon Lavin, who was once an OSI Group partner, became the chairman and CEO. Thus, began another major expansion period for the company. Not only did the company continue to be one of the four meat suppliers for McDonalds, but they also began entering other sectors of the food industry.
OSI Group has seen continued growth since their humble beginnings as Otto & Sons; now the company is ranked has $6.1 billion in revenue per year; additionally, the company is ranked number 58 on the 2016 Forbes list of largest companies.