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OSI Group A Classic American Success Story


Like most European immigrants who landed in the city of Chicago in the early 1900s, German-born Otto Kolschowsky was eager to make something of himself. He arrived in 1907. After working odd jobs to survive, Otto decided that he wanted to control his own destiny, be his own man and own his own business.

He set up a butcher shop and meat market and got down to work. The basic values of hard work, providing a superior product and treating people fairly and with kindness got his nascent business off to a good start. Ten years later Otto’s meat shop was thriving and expanded into wholesale.

By 1928 the butcher shop has become Otto & Sons as Harry and Arthur Kolschowsky came onboard with their father. The business was now thriving and had become an established part of the fabric of the West Chicago community.

Fast forward to the mid-1950s. Otto & Sons had pressed on through the Great Depression and World War II and was now poised to take things to a new level. Harry and Arthur were eager to expand when a golden opportunity came their way in the shape of two Golden Arches. Yes, “those” Golden Arches — McDonald’s!

The boys made a handshake agreement with Ray Kroc who was poised to set up the first franchised version of McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois. Otto & Sons would supply all the beef patties. The rest is history.

Otto & Sons grew with McDonald’s until the 1970s when the company evolved to become OSI Group. The 1960s and ‘70s were decades of enormous growth, but also of vast technological transformation. It was also in the 1970s that OSI Group brought in a financial consultant by the name of Sheldon Lavin. He would eventually become CEO of OSI Group and continues to serves in that capacity today.

Under Lavin’s visionary leadership, OSI Group has become an international company and one of the largest meat processors in the world. It currently operated 70 facilities in 17 countries and employs 20,000 people.

From one-man butchershop established by an immigrant to one of the largest American privately-held companies, OSI Group is a classic American success story.

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