For over 100 years the OSI Group and its predecessor, Otto & Sons, has been known for high quality food products. Founded as a Chicago area butcher shop by Otto Kolschowsky, a German immigrant, the company has grown to become a world leader in food processing through innovation and a focus on quality. Originally run by Kolschowsky and his two sons, the company now has 20,000 employees and customers in 85 countries. Called the OSI Group since CEO Sheldon Lavin took over the company in the 1980s, the former butcher shop now has over 65 food processing facilities located in 17 countries.
The company’s inexorable march to greatness started when Kolschowsky and his sons expanded from a community meat market to begin providing wholesale meat to restaurants and supermarkets throughout Illinois. When they had the good fortune to get the contract to provide Ray Kroc and his growing McDonald’s franchise with ground beef, the company began to grow exponentially. Soon it was supplying so much meat for McDonald’s they had to invest in larger facilities, new technology and create a subsidiary called Glenmark to serve its growing number of restaurant and supermarket customers.
Former banker, investor and financial services professional Sheldon Lavin became involved with Otto & Sons when they turned to him for help getting financing to expand. Impressed with their potential, Lavin got them the money and began buying shares in the company. When Otto Kolschowsky’s sons Arthur and Harry retired in the late 1970s, Lavin took over the company, changed its name to the OSI Group and created a plan for global expansion. The combination of his vision, innovation and ability to build a talented, creative, knowledgeable staff has made the company a world leader in the food processing industry.
The former tiny butcher shop is now America’s 58th largest privately-owned company with revenues of over $6.1 billion. The OSI Group is China’s largest poultry processor and has facilities throughout North, South and Central America, Asia, Australia and Europe. They have grown by building state-of-the-art facilities, acquiring food companies like Baho Foods in Holland, Flagship Europe in the UK and Amick Farms in the U.S. It also did joint ventures with companies in Canada, China, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Hungary, Poland and Spain.
The OSI Group’s focus on food safety and quality and effective environmental management practices has led to its winning numerous awards. OSI Group Buys Former Tyson Foods Plant in Chicago