The OSI Group is a classic American business success story. The company was started in 1909 by German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky as a small Oak Park, Illinois meat market. Today it has grown to become one of the top 100 food companies in the United States and provides processed meats and other food products to restaurants, grocery stores and other international businesses involved in the food service and retail industries. From its headquarters in Aurora, Illinois, the privately owned OSI Group serves clients in Canada, China, Europe, the Philippines, Taiwan and throughout the United States.
Kolschowsky expanded his meat market and to include the wholesale meat trade in 1917. In 1928 he changed the company’s name to Otto & Sons and continued to provide the highest quality meats. In 1955 the company agreed to a handshake deal that would boost its fortunes dramatically. That handshake deal was with a fledgling fast-food business owner named Ray Kroc and his new company McDonald’s. The deal gave Otto & Sons the contract to provide the ground beef patties for the McDonald’s franchise. It ended up making them untold millions as McDonald’s became an international fast-food juggernaut.
Cryogenic food processing’s invention in the late 1960s dramatically changed the fast-food industry. Companies were no longer forced to use hundreds of fresh beef suppliers. High-volume producers could flash-freeze the meat and transport it anywhere. Otto & Sons created their first high-volume meat plant in 1973. It featured liquid nitrogen freezing tunnels and patty-forming machines specially designed for the company. That enabled them to remain one of McDonald’s primary meat suppliers for its stores worldwide.
In 1973 Otto & Sons also created Glenmark’s, a unit designed to handle its non-McDonald’s customers. Today the company, which became OSI Industries in 1975, produces and distributes packaged meat products under many names. They include Amick Farms, OSI China, OSI Europe, GenOSI Inc., K&K Foods Ltd., Vista Processed Foods, DaOSI, OJC, Fair Oaks Farms, Nation Pizza and Foods and OSI Select Ready Foods. OSI also produces private label brand foods as well as co-packs brand name items destined for a variety of retail and foodservice customers.
The company has grown tremendously since Otto Kolschowsky it over 107 years ago. Today the OSI Group has 65 facilities throughout 17 countries worldwide. In 2016 Forbes listed the OSI Group’s assets at $6.1 billion and ranked it number 58 among the largest private companies.