When Otto Kolschowsky opened up a small retail meat market and butcher shop on Chicago’s West Side in 1909, he could have never guessed that more than a hundred years later, his company would be a world-wide food provider with more than 10,000 employees across the world. And yet you can still see reminders of that original business in its current incarnation, the OSI Group.
Within two years of opening his initial business, Kolschowsky expanded into the meat wholesaling business and within a decade it had expanded again and the company was renamed Otto & Sons. And it was Otto’s sons who negotiated the deal that launched the company into a national business. Just as Ray Kroc was beginning to build the McDonald’s restaurant chain, he and Otto’s two sons made a deal to supply regional McDonald’s with burgers. Over the next two decades that relationship expanded until Otto & Sons became one of McDonald’s four core suppliers. In 1975, the two Kolschowsky sons were ready to retire and as an outside CEO was brought in for the first time, the company reflected the move by changing its name to OSI Group.
In the decades since, the company has continued to expand and is now a truly global food provider. By the beginning of the 21st Century the company operated a global network of processing plants. And as OSI Group has increased its attention in recent years on Europe and China, it’s also moved into value-added protein products ranging from sausages to pizzas.
OSI Global’s most recent move has been in Australia, where it merged its Australian unit with Australian poultry farming and processing company Turi Foods. The 50/50 merger expands the OSI Group reach in the Australian market, which is one of the company’s fastest-growing markets. Otto Kolschowsky would no doubt be shocked by the reach of the company he founded more than 100 years ago. But he would recognize the company culture, which continues to focus on quality and innovation and more