The OSI Group: A Century of Innovation, Quality, and Service

There are not many companies that can say that they have endured the ups and downs, the good time and bad, the trials and tribulations of being around for over a century, and even fewer that can say that in the process they have not only become an industry leader, but also an innovator, and a force to looked at for the future. The OSI Group can say these things and more. The OSI Group started out as a single man with a desire to make a living for his family. Today the company is a long way from the small corner shop known to the German immigrants of the Oak Park neighborhood of Chicago’s West Side as Otto’s Meat Market. These days the OSI Group is the leading provider of proteins to the largest food service distribution entities in the world. What started out as a way for Otto Kolschowsky to feed his family has grown into a “Meat Market for the World” feeding millions of people high-quality proteins and related products on every continent except Antarctica.

Otto was the son of German immigrant parents. The men of his family had been butchers for generations and it was a trade that his father taught to him at an early age. The family moved to Chicago to take advantage of the fact that it was the meatpacking capital of the world. Chicagoan of the turn of the century seemingly could not get enough meat in their lives, and that meant that those with the skills to butcher high-quality cuts were in demand. Otto decided that he would try his hand at running his own meat market and soon he was the talk of the town, not only for his high-quality cuts, but also his fair pricing, and his extremely high regard for customer’s satisfaction. After a bit, the name Otto’s meat became synonymous with the best available products in the area, and he had to expand his market to include a wholesale operation to accommodate his hotel and restaurant clients. This is also when he renamed the business Otto & Sons Meat, bringing his two boys into the firm and teaching them the meat business just as his father had taught him.

A lot of changes were underway for Otto and his sons, but there was one more that was coming that they could not have possibly dreamed of. A small burger and shakes shack out of San Bernardino, California had been rapidly growing and expanding across the US with what the owners called “Speedee Service”. A franchise model and modernized operation brought into the company by Roy Kroc had quickly made the name McDonald’s a household brand. As the desire for the famous hamburgers, fries and shakes grew more dominant, the company needed to expand its supply chain network and that meant finding meat providers that were up to the task in each of its major operating markets. In the upper Midwest McDonald’s turned to Otto & Sons. It was a decision that would forever change both companies and lead to unprecedented success that has yet to ever be matched in the food service industry.

Within just a few short years Otto & Sons expanded into being the sole provider of proteins for the McDonald’s system in the United States and Canada. As the company grew to better serve McDonald’s McDonalds also grew to better serve the world. Soon Otto & Sons, now known as OSI Industries found itself not only being the “Meat Man” to the world’s biggest fast-food chain but also providing high-quality proteins to other distribution networks. Along the way, they develop innovations that changed the food service industry and the meatpacking industry from the inside out. They also developed a reputation for being a company that distributors wanted to do business with because they knew that they would be treated fairly and with consideration.

Today The OSI Group employs more than 20,000 people at 65 faculties in 17 countries. New facilities open every year, and more countries are slated to have operations introduced in the next 3-5 years. The company provides food products in the form of traditional proteins as well as protein alternative and specialty products to every major developed region of the world. OSI the largest provider of beef alternative in India and pork alternative in the middle east. As for being on every continent except Antarctica OSI’s President likes to joke “just wait, we may have an operation there soon enough”. Joke or not, one thing is for sure, if the market ever dictates a need, you can bet OSI will be the first to sell beef to the penguins.

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