At the turn of the last century, Otto Kolschowsky, an immigrant from Germany, founded a butcher shop in the Chicago area. The shop, later called Otto & Sons, developed a reputation for offering excellent cuts of meats. Soon Otto & Sons was supplying wholesale meat to supermarkets, restaurants and private label brands throughout Illinois. The company began experiencing meteoritic growth when they agreed to provide Ray Kroc with ground beef for his McDonald’s franchise beginning in 1955. Soon afterwards Otto & Sons had to create Glenmark, a subsidiary which handled the company’s customers other than McDonald’s.
After purchasing cryogenic flash freezing equipment and moving into larger facilities in the 1960s, Otto & Sons was ready to expand even more in the 1970s. They turned to Sheldon Lavin and his company for help with financing. Lavin got them the money and remained closely involved with the company. By the late 1970s, Otto Kolschowsky and his sons had retired and Lavin owned a majority of the company’s stock, so he took over. The company’s name was changed to the OSI Group in 1975 to signify its transformation into a technologically advanced business and Lavin set them on a course for international expansion.
Lavin put lots of emphasis on Asia and its huge population. The OSI Group entered joint ventures with several companies in China, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan. The company also constructed 10 facilities for processing poultry in China and built facilities in the cities of Bangalore and Punjab in India. The company even began providing meat, fish, dough and vegetable products to Burger King, Papa John’s Pizza, Saizeriya, Yum, Subway, Starbucks and other western fast food franchises doing business in China. It also became China’s largest producer of poultry products.
But with all the company’s growth and international expansion, it continues to focus on producing the best tasting, most nutritious products using excellent environmental management practices. That focus on proper environmental stewardship resulted in the OSI Group winning the Globe of Honor awarded by the British Safety Council, the California Green Business Award and the Environmental Recognition Award handed out by the North American Meat Institute. The company has also won the enduring love of it 20,000 employees for the great worker safety and benefits programs it put in place.
In addition to all that, the OSI Group has the gratitude of consumers in 85 countries who enjoy their products.