OSI Industries Still Thriving After Many Decades

OSI Industries has come a long way from its humble beginnings on the West side of Chicago in 1909. Started by German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky, the small meat market and butcher shot thrived and within 2 years, it became the most successful such shop in the city.

By 1924, the business was branded Otto & Sons. The family-based business became the model of a successful grassroots immigrant business. However, the best was yet to come.

Right after the end of WWII, Otto & Sons was right in the middle of a bustling economic boom. With the expansion of suburbs, skyscrapers and restaurants, Otto & Sons was on the cusp of something remarkable. Across town, restaurateur Ray Kroc, had just opened his first McDonald’s restaurant with the McDonald Brothers. He was looking for a meat distributor for his burger shop. And with a handshake, the partnership between Otto & Sons and Ray Kroc began.

A few years later, Kroc bought out the franchise. McDonald’s quickly became the blueprint for the first fast food model. As Otto & Sons grew, they became the primary distributor of meats for the McDonald’s Corporation.

With the pressure of Otto & Sons being the only supplier for McDonald’s the pressure was great. However, many new technological breakthroughs in the 1960s — such as cryogenic freezing — allowed the Otto & Sons the ability to deliver.

By 1973, Otto & Sons built a plant solely for the manufacturing of McDonald’s meat patties. A few years later, the company was re-branded OSI Industries.

As Harry and Arthur Kolschowsky’s retirement neared, they brought on Sheldon Lavin as a partner with OSI Industries.

Lavin’s presence helped the OSI industries expand globally. The 1980s proved to be a high-growth phase for the company, and before long, it was on the Forbes top 100 private companies with a worth of $6.1 billion.