This year, OSI Group celebrates 100 years of meat processing innovations. The company originally started in 1909 by German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky. The city of Chicago had a large German immigrant population who were eager to stake a claim in the United States. Kolschowsky’s meat show thrived and by the end of the first World War, he had moved his store to the suburb of Maywood. The shop continued to grow and by the end of the next decade, the meat market was re-branded Otto & Sons. This stable, local business became a vital part of the community. With all of its success, the fortunes of Otto & Sons was about to change. A restaurant broker named Ray Krok was looking for a meat market to supply his newly-opened McDonald’s restaurant.
So, with a handshake, an alliance was formed between two obscure businesses. Otto Kolschowsky and his sons could never imagine in their wildest dreams how fateful that handshake would become.After buying out his co-partners, the McDonald brothers, Kroc’s McDonald’s restaurant became the blue print of what a successful fast-food restaurant should look like. Otto & Sons became the sole supplier of ground beef for McDonald’s restaurants. After Otto’s sons Arthur and Harry took over the business, McDonald’s exploded into a very successful franchise. The newly rebranded OSI Group was now responsible for supplying beef for all of McDonald’s in the Midwest.
The company was now working with the restaurant that was on the cusp of becoming the most recognizable in the world. Over the next two decades, OSI Group perfected their manufacturing technology. The ground-breaking flash freezing process created even more opportunities for the corporation. The process proved to be a quicker and more affordable way to process meats. OSI Group continued to grow. They acquired a number of companies, including Glenmark, which produced products for both retailers and restaurants. By 1975, the Kolschowsky brothers were ready to retire. They needed new blood to run their company and chose Sheldon Levin. Not only did Levin continue to keep OSI Group profitable, the company is also a global powerhouse worth an estimated $6.1 billion, according to Forbes.