OSI Group recently celebrated its 100th anniversary in food processing. The global food provider’s humble beginnings started at the turn of the century in Oak Park, Illinois. In 1909, German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky started his family meat market. By 1917, it had branched out to the nearby suburb of Maynard.
The name was changed to Otto & Sons in 1928. The market quickly gained a reputation for producing quality meats. For three decades, the market continued to be a successful and vital part of the community. After the end of WWII, there would be an economic expansion. Otto & Sons would soon enter into an agreement that would prove fateful.
Across town, restaurateur Ray Kroc was still in business with the McDonald Brothers. The burger restaurant that was opened would prove to be the franchise model of the future. Before the opening, Kroc entered into a handshake agreement with Otto’s sons Arthur and Harry, making them the exclusive meat supplier of his restaurant.
Kroc soon bought out the McDonald’s and his businesses took off. OSI Group supplied the meats and McDonald’s became one of the most successful restaurants in the world.
By the 1960s, Otto & Sons had developed technological advancements such as cryogenic freezing with liquid oxygen. The process helped reduce costs and speed up production.
By 1973, Otto & Sons constructed a manufacturing plant exclusively for the production McDonald’s patties. Parts of the business that were non-McDonald’s spun off into the Glenmark Brand. The division is used to supply retail and restaurant markets.
In 1975, Otto & Sons was renamed OSI Group. It was about this time when both Kolschowsky brothers were ready to retire. They brought in Sheldon Lavin to help the company with the transition. So pleased with his efforts, they ultimately made him a partner. He is still the CEO today.
By 1977, Lavin had amped up OSI Group’s business. Through a number of expansions and acquisitions, OSI group soon became one of the largest privately-owned companies in the U.S.
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