OSI Group is arguably one of the largest food processors in the world. Headquartered in Illinois, the company has over sixty-five facilities spread across seventeen countries with over twenty thousand employees. It emerged from humble beginnings to become a major corporate business that influences the industry.
The history of the company can be related to the American immigrant experience. Its founder Otto Kolschowsky was among immigrants from Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century who settled in Chicago, Illinois. At that time, German immigrants made up a quarter of the city’s population. Chicago was a thriving city as an industrial center and gateway for most immigrants. Two years after arriving in the country, Kolschowsky started a small butchery to supply meat to community. Business flourished and after the First World War he opened another branch and expanded into wholesale. The business was re-branded to Otto & Sons and continued to soar to greater heights.
After the Second World War, various businesses and suburbs started to sprout in different parts of the country. At the same time, Otto & Sons which was still relatively small and run as a family business entered into an alliance with McDonald’s. The alliance made Otto & Sons the exclusive supply of meat to McDonald’s.
The influence of technology
As McDonald’s continued to expand across the country as a business franchise, so did Otto & Sons symbiotically. Ray Kroc, the CEO of McDonald’s emphasized on a consistent supply of products to individual restaurants. The Flash freezing technology, where food is frozen using liquid nitrogen, significantly reduced the cost of production and enabled Otto & Sons to supply consistently.
Transition and continued growth
Even after considerable growth, Otto & Sons was regarded as a family business. However, in 1975, as part of the transition, the company changed the name to OSI Group. Additionally, Sheldon Lavin who served as an investment consultant joined the company as a partner. As an investor in the banking industry, Lavin had immense experience that helped OSI Group transform from a local business to a multinational company. The expansion into international markets was made possible by the numerous acquisitions, joint ventures, and purchases. For instance, the joint venture with K&K Foods from Taiwan was a gateway to the Asian-Pacific market. OSI Group has grown to become one of the largest food processing companies in the US with estimated sales of over six billion dollars. Additionally, apart from McDonald’s, OSI Group has entered into partnership with other major multinationals for instance Starbucks and Subway.
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