From a Retail Meat Shop to a Global Food Provider – The History of OSI Industries

From a Retail Meat Shop to a Global Food Provider – The History of OSI Industries

The year 2018 marked the 108th anniversary for the OSI Industries. The company was founded in 1909 in Chicago and is currently headquartered in Aurora Illinois, with over 20,000 employees. With over a century in meat processing, the industry is among the leading players in the food service and retail sector globally. But despite its worldwide dominance in food provision, the company’s history is worth reading – from a butcher shop to its present status.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of immigrants from German was expanding in Chicago. One of these immigrants was Otto Kolschowsky who took advantage of the city’s status as the heart of America’s industries. In 1909, he started a butcher shop which served the growing population by supplying retail meat. As the First World War subsided, he grew his business into a wholesale. The next decade saw growth of the company, later on, rebranding to Otto & Sons. Like many small local businesses, the family business remained stable even after world war two.

Towards the middle of the 20th century, the now OSI Industries witnessed cutting edge success. First, McDonald’s (which had opened in 1940) hired contracted OSI with the supply of fresh meat. Then, the family business received a full contract to solely supply raw meat to the growing McDonald’s Corporation branches.

Even though the business had seen tremendous growth, it wasn’t until 1975 that Otto & Sons rebranded to OSI Industries. The transition was influenced by the need to brand the company’s services and the changing technology. Another aspect was the need to globalize the business, which saw changes in leadership – the current CEO Sheldon Lavin taking part in the company as a partner.

In the 1980’s, Lavin became OSI Industries CEO as the company needed a more structured leadership model to drive its international growth goal. After that, the firm opened international branches – starting with China, Australia, and India. The growth streak never stopped to date. In 2017, for instance, OSI purchased the Chicago-based Tyson Foods to serve the North America market. With Lavin as its CEO, the company has expanded into 17 countries with over 65 facilities. OSI Group acquires Baho Food