There was a time in the early 20th century when Chicago Illinois was an immigrant hub. Twenty-five percent of the state’s population was of German descent as those looking to establish farms settled on the plains of Chicago. One of those immigrants was Otto Kolschowsky who started a retail butcher shop and meat market to serve his countrymen in the community. As Chicago grew and the need for food products increased, the business expanded into the wholesale side and became Otto & Sons. This began the 75 year journey from family butcher to multinational company.
The business got its initial boost from a handshake agreement that Otto’s sons made with Ray Kroc in 1955. Kroc was opening the first McDonald’s restaurant and Otto’s & Sons was going to be his meat supplier. As McDonald’s expanded, so did the pressure to produce a consistent product and transport it over long distances. This led to the creation of the process known as flash freezing.
In 1973 Otto’s built a manufacturing plant with state-of-the-art equipment to process and freeze meats. This plant supplied McDonald’s nationwide and continued to serve the local restaurants and meat markets. A few years later, the company expanded to Germany and Spain and was renamed OSI Industries. The company continued to grow through a series of mergers and acquisitions. OSI Industries would eventually gain the status of a multinational corporation that was recognized as one of the world’s largest food product suppliers. The company currently operates over 65 plants in 17 countries.
OSI Industries was the first to use and perfect meat packing technologies. The company’s focus was not only on increased production but on supplying food products that were safe and of the highest quality. Another company goal was to partner with others to share the technology and resources so that the industry could continue to grow. Maintaining the environment became an OSI Industries priority and the efforts made in this area were rewarded with the California Green Business Award, Britain’s Globe of Honor, and the North American Meat Institute’s Environmental Recognition.