OSI Group is among the world’s largest meat processing companies in the world today, but its origins and journey from a small, single-owner family business to international player is a bona fide slice of Americana.
It’s also a classic American immigrant success story. Otto Kolschowsky came to America in 1907. After working odd jobs to gain a foothold in his new country, he set up his own butcher shop in a Chicago suburb in 1909. Hard work and a dedication to providing only high quality meats quickly earned Mr. Kolschowsky a stellar reputation within his community.
If you wanted a fine cut of meat, you could trust Otto Kolschowsky.
His butcher shop thrived and he began selling meats retail. Within 10 years Otto took his business wholesale. His sons joined his business and their customer base grew steadily through the end of World War II.
But perhaps the most fateful moment for the future of Otto & Sons came in 1955 when a man by the name of Ray Kroc opened a new kind of restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was to become the first McDonald’s restaurant in the United States.
Ray Kroc made a handshake agreement with the sons of Otto Kolschowsky — Harry and Arthur — to be the supplier of fresh beef for the fledgling new restaurant. The rest is history. As the McDonald’s franchise concept and fast food technique caught fire, so did its No. 1 supplier of beef.
Otto & Sons would become OSI Industries in 1975 and eventually OSI Group. Today OSI Group is a $6 billion annual business with 20,000 employees and 65 facilities in 17 countries. It is among the largest privately held companies of any kind in the United States.
For the past 30 years, OSI Group has been helmed by its President, David G. McDonald, — no relation to the original namesake of McDonald’s restaurant. Just call it an amazingly appropriate coincidence considering the marvelous synergistic history shared by these two cutting-edge food companies.
From the single-owner shop of a hard working immigrant to the world’s premier multinational meat supplier, the story of OSI Group represents a model of American business success.