The Success Journey of OSI Group

Behind every successful venture, there is a story of both the sad and happy moments it underwent to be where it is today. Being in the game for more than a century, OSI Group has more than what we can call a story. Today, the company is a leading provider of protein products around the world. Also, it is among the largest providers of employment opportunities with over 20,000 staff who work in its 65 facilities set in 17 countries.

The company has risen from a humble background to a significant corporate and distributor of food products around the globe. OSI’s history is associated with the American immigrant experience. In 1907, Otto Kolscowsky was among the German-immigrant community living in Chicago, Illinois. During that time, Chicago was an entry point for new immigrants as well as the industry’s point of origin.

In 1909, Otto created a butcher shop and a meat market in Oak Park. It is right to say that business was good for Otto because after a decade, he expanded his venture to Maywood, Chicago. Also, Otto grew his business into wholesale to broaden his market. In 1928, Otto’s venture was rebranded as Otto & Sons.

Although small, Otto & Sons was prominent and part of the American community, and this is what influenced its significant growth. OSI Group was the earliest suppliers of McDonald’s after the agreement with Ray Kroc before its opening in 1955. The deal between Kroc and the Otto sons saw the two grow their businesses as well as outreach. Today, McDonald’s is a recognized and respected brand around the world.

McDonald’s was looking for a global market, and this is what saw OSI Industries expand its services to the world while trying to satisfy McDonald’s growing demand. Kroc was looking for a consistent product to its customers, and it was Osi Industries duty to meet the demand. The introduction of cryogenic food processing (freezing food using liquid nitrogen) saw the relationship between the Otto sons and Ray Kroc. The association was enhanced by the fact that Otto & Sons could meet the high demand at a reduced cost.

In the early 70’s, Otto & Sons launched a plant in West Chicago with advanced tech for freezing hamburger patties, and it was dedicated to McDonald’s. Business with the local restaurant and markets continued as usual via the Glenmark brand. In 1975, Otto & Sons rebranded to OSI Industries as part of its transition. The company did change, not only its name but also improved its leadership. All along, members of the Kolscowsky were running the company and had reached retirement age, and this is what saw Sheldon Lavin join as a partner.

After the transition, OSI Industries continued to grow as a supplier of both McDonald’s and local markets. The move saw it expand to Utah and even other North American facilities by the early 80’s. The urge to lead the international market saw Sheldon Lavin become the company’s chairman and CEO in the 80’s. Lavin’s role in the company is significant, and he has continued to oversee the expansions to new facilities as well as new sectors such as poultry. Today, OSI is a distinguished company. In 2016, it was ranked #58 by Forbes among the largest private companies. Its sales were approximated at $6.1 billion.

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