OSI Group began as a small local family run meat market in 1909 in Oak Park, Chicago. This meat market was opened by a German immigrant named Otto Kolschowsky two years after he arrived in the United States. Kolschowsky did well in his business and within ten years he also offered wholesale pricing and moved his operations to Maywood, Chicago. Kolschowsky continued to thrive in business and in 1928 his company became known as Otto & Sons.
In the post-war boom of 1950s America, Ray Kroc, a franchise agent chose Otto & Sons as the supplier of fresh ground beef for their hamburgers with a handshake deal for McDonald’s. McDonald’s was a family restaurant started in 1940 in San Bernadino, California by Richard and Maurice McDonald. This seemingly informal handshake deal between Otto & Sons and Ray Kroc planted Otto & Sons in a growing giant. In 1955 Ray Kroc bought out McDonald’s from the original founders, became the OSI Group company’s CEO and expanded the franchise by opening more and more new McDonald’s restaurants.
In rising to the challenge of providing a consistent product for their customers, Otto & Sons began to use cutting edge technology that would make delivering a quality product easier and reduce costs. This new technology was flash freezing or cryogenic food processing which involved using liquid nitrogen to quickly freeze food. Along with maintaining a good relationship with Kroc and McDonald’s customers, Arthur and Harry Kolschowsky built a plant exclusively for producing McDonald’s products in 1973. Otto & Sons was focused on two major customers. The first was supplying McDonald’s restaurants as one of McDonald’s top four national suppliers and continuing to serve the retail markets and local restaurants as the Glenmark brand. This stable focus came to a turning point as Arthur and Harry Kolschowsky neared their retirement years, and the long family run business of Otto & Sons became OSI Industries in 1975. The brothers brought Sheldon Lavin in as a partner in the company. Lavin served as an investment consultant with the company’s capitalization efforts in 1970.
In the years that followed Lavin became CEO and with Lavin’s skill as an investor and banking executive, he led OSI Group in even more expansion and growth into the global market. In the early late 1980s and early 1990s, the corporation expanded through joint ventures in Brazil, Austria, Mexico, Hungary, Poland, Taiwan, and the Philippines. In addition to McDonald’s, OSI Group took on more major clients such as Starbucks, PapaJohns, Saizeriya, Burger King and Subway. In the 2000s OSI Group began developing poultry processing. The corporation bought Amick Farms and created a joint venture with Weihai Poultry in China. Most recently OSI Group has stretched into India and Australia as it merged with Turi Foods based in Victoria, Australia.