OSI Industries is now a multinational firm but when it started out it was just one among a number of corner butcher shops in the greater Chicago region. The year this company opened its doors was 1909. A German immigrant by the name of Otto Kolschowsky established this company. About 25% of the population of this area was German at the time and the city was known for butchering hogs, shipping wheat, and making tools.
When Kolschowsky’s two sons were old enough, in 1928, they joined this company and it was named Otto & Sons. They soon branched out to the wholesale side of the butchering industry. Otto & Sons continued as a successful Illinois company for decades but everything changed in 1955.
Both of Otto’s sons were friends with Ray Kroc. At the time franchising restaurants was a new concept and Ray Kroc was a franchise agent for a family in California who owned a family restaurant. They wanted to start franchising restaurants, beginning in Illinois. Ray Kroc opened the very first McDonald’s franchise in Illinois and he chose Otto & Sons to be the sole providers of his restaurant’s ground beef. As more McDonald’s locations opened in Illinois more and more of Otto & Sons’ business was tied to the success of McDonald’s.
In the late 1960s flash freezing was invented. This enabled companies to ship beef farther and at less expense. It also meant McDonald’s could cut its national group of beef suppliers down to just four, with OSI Industries being one of those. 1975 was another big turning point for this company. It was renamed as OSI Industries and a new business partner by the name of Sheldon Lavin got heavily involved as the new CEO. McDonald’s by this point was starting to expand internationally so OSI Industries did so as well.
Today, OSI Industries has food production facilities in nations across Europe and Asia. They are also in nations such as Australia and in Latin America. They have a number of facilities in America. They also sell food to many quick serve restaurants instead of just solely to McDonald’s. Sheldon Lavin wholly owned this business today and still leads it in his mid-80s. He is still expanding the presence of this company in the world and it is now ranked by Forbes at #58 when it comes to American privately held businesses.
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