OSI Group: From Butcher Shop to Meat Market of the World

The OSI Group is one of the few companies in the world that has been able to achieve the enviable accomplishment of surviving for more than a century. This is a feat in and of itself to be certain, but to also be a global industry leader in one of the most competitive business sectors around, it makes the accomplishment even more impressive. Like so many other companies, the OSI group has grown to its sizeable power and influence gradually over the years, starting out from humble beginnings, and making key decisions along the way. It was the principles of its founder Otto Kolschowsky, that has guided those decisions always, and of course, a good bit of luck is as always an important part of the equation and more

Otto didn’t start out with a dream of being the worldwide leader in the protein supplier industry. All Otto wanted to do was make a living for his family. He grew up in Germany and immigrated to the United States near the turn of the 20th century. Like so many who came to the new world looking for a future, he brought with him very little in terms of possessions, but a wealth of knowledge and skills that he could use to build his life. In the case of Otto, he brought with him the skills that had been handed down to him from the long line of Kolschowsky men before him, the skill of butchering.

He settled in the German immigrant-rich area of Chicago known as Oak Park, on the west side. His skills were in high demand and after working for a couple of years in various butcher shops and meat packing plants, he decided to set out on his own and open a shop. He had a wife and children after all and he needed to provide the best life he could for them. His new storefront “Otto’s Meat Market” was a hit and soon he had more business than he could handle, but he never thought that was a bad thing. He even found himself starting to get big orders from the local restaurants and hotels. The word of his exceptional quality, fair prices, and excellent customer care had gotten around and now everyone wanted Otto’s meat in their kitchens. He brought his sons into the business and expanded to include a wholesale division as well. It was a good time for Otto and his family, but even better times were just around the corner and from a most unlikely and unexpected source.

About the same time Otto & Sons was taking off, another small business was growing like wild weeds all over the country, McDonald’s. When the hamburger and fries franchiser wanted to increase their production levels, they started to turn to local distributors to help them keep up with the demand. In the upper Midwest, they partnered with Otto & Sons and it was a decision that would change both companies forever. Within a few short years, McDonald’s was everywhere and they started to depend on Otto & Sons more to help them feed the millions and millions of people who were hungry for their signature sandwiches every year all around the world. Soon, Otto & Sons, by then known as OSI, had become the sole provider of proteins to the McDonalds system in North America and a leading supplier for them overseas. This led OSI to expand their production even further and begin supplying to other food outlets as well. Everyone in the world, it seemed, wanted to have OSI as their meat supplier, and OSI was more than happy to oblige.

Today, thanks to the expansion that was made possible by the relationship that OSI had and still enjoys with McDonald’s, the OSI Group is the global leader in supply chain origination for service ready and process ready proteins around the world. The OSI group operates in 17 countries and employs more than 20,000 people directly and thousands more indirectly from their own upstream supply chain which includes local ranchers, processors, and logistics partners. With more than 65 currently operating facilities and new ones opening every year, it’s no wonder why the company is the most recognized and trusted name in food protein product origination. It’s been a great 100 years for OSI and it’s certain that the next hundred will be even better!