How OSI Group Became An International Firm

OSI Group is a global food provider that was founded in 1909 by an immigrant from Germany. Otto Kolschowsky was the founder and he established a butcher shop in Chicago. He extended his business into wholesaling in 1919 and also brought in his two sons to work in his business, thus naming his company Otto & Sons. Until the 1950s this company continued under this business model.

In 1955, Ray Kroc was a franchise agent for a family located in California, Richard and Maurice McDonald, who owned a restaurant there and wanted to place franchises around the country. Ray Kroc was friends with Otto’s two sons and so when he opened the first McDonalds OSI, in Des Plaines, Illinois, he entered into an agreement with them to supply his restaurants ground beef patties. As McDonald’s grew into more and more restaurants in Illinois Otto & Sons grew right along with it.

Towards the close of the 1960s a revolution hit the food industry. Flash freezing was invented which involved quickly freezing meat using liquid nitrogen. One of the effects of this change was that McDonald’s was able to reduce their number of meat suppliers they were using from more than 100 to just four with Otto & Sons being one of them. A few years later Otto & Sons built its first plant in the Chicago area which was dedicated solely to processing meat for McDonald’s. This company still processed meat for the local market but increasingly they were growing due to McDonald’s growth.

In 1975, the named was changed to OSI Group, LLC and a businessman named Sheldon Lavin was brought in as a partner and chief executive officer. They started to expand internationally, first in Germany and then Spain. Today OSI Group has facilities in North America, Central America, South America, the United Kingdom, a number of European nations, and in Asian countries such as China and India. In 2016 Forbes said that they are the 58th biggest private company in America and generated $6.1 billion in revenues that year.

A particular focus of OSI Group since 2001 is China. That was the year that country entered the World Trade Organization. In response OSI Group opened a number of wholly foreign-owned enterprise in China through which they supply food to several chain restaurants. Beyond McDonald’s they also have clients such as Starbucks, Yum, Papa John’s, Subway, and more.