OSI Group is a food processor that operates on a global scale and one of their primary business concepts is the cultivation of key partnerships. The history of the company goes back over 100 years and involves regular periods of expansion and innovation. Today, they maintain 65 facilities in 17 different countries, as well as approximately 20,000 employees and all of this, drives their success.
The unique story of what became OSI Group begins with a German immigrant named Otto Kolschowsky. He settled in Chicago and opened up a corner butcher shop with a meat market in 1909. He served the surrounding neighborhoods many of whom were also German emigrants.
After nearly a decade of operating this way, he expanded into the wholesale meat business near the end of World War I. Later on his sons became a part of the business and they became Otto & Sons. They were a trusted, valued part of the local business community and enjoyed serving their fellow residents.
The next catalyst that took Otto & Sons to a whole new level was their partnership with Ray Kroc of McDonald’s. He was in need of a meat supplier for the first franchise location in Des Plaines, Illinois. He selected them and the relationship became integral to both family-owned businesses. The franchise model for restaurants proved to be wildly successful and the growth of both companies was steady and substantial.
A technological advancement made it possible for Otto & Sons to supply many more McDonald’s franchise locations. The use of flash freezing technology enabled them to keep up with the extraordinary demand of their best customer. They could now ship burgers far greater distances to far-flung places.
The year 1973 saw Otto & Sons build an entire production plant for McDonald’s burgers and other menu items. Because of their longstanding good relationship with them, they became one of only four suppliers that kept the McDonald’s juggernaut rolling.
Two significant milestones took place in 1975 and the first one was a name change to OSI Group. This was a nod to the original founding members as well a better reflection of the international scope of their business. A key executive also joined the company as a partner who came aboard with a global vision. Sheldon Lavin helped OSI Group chart a path for expansion and his investing and banking skills proved to be invaluable. Today, they continue strategic expansion while holding to their important history in American business.
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