The incredible journey of Otto & Sons to becoming OSI Industries

What started as a local Chicago butchery in 1909, would a century later, become one of the biggest and profitable food providers in the U.S and the entire globe. Otto Kolschowsky is the man credited for this fete. Given the circumstances that Otto faced at that time as a fresh German immigrant, you can only admire his ingenuity and astuteness, because the dictionary does not harbor enough adjectives to describe Otto Kolschowsky and his achievements. Otto’s hardwork and ambition placed the keystone that OSI Industries would thrive on and become a formidable company in the food industry, serving millions of people in 17 countries and providing secure jobs for more than 20,000 people.

From local butchery to Otto & Sons

After Otto Kolschowsky started a small meat market in 1902, he experienced great success in his venture. A decade later, Otto would expand his business and begin operating on a wholesale scale. Twenty years later, in 1928, Otto would initiate his two sons, Arthur and Harry, into the family business. Consequently, he re-branded the business to Otto & Sons. This would prove to be a strategic and smart move as Harry and Arthur would later take over and grow the company to what is today known as OSI Industries. The two sons of Otto were likable and charismatic, and as it may seem, they had inherited a knack for business from their old man. This would see them strike a friendship with Ray Kroc.

Partnership with Ray Kroc

At the time Kroc worked for Richard and Maurice McDonald, a couple from California who were running a franchise of family restaurants. Ray Kroc would later take over from the couple and establish the first McDonald’s restaurant in Illinois. Being in good books with Ray Kroc, Otto & Sons was chosen as the main meat supplier to Ray Kroc’s McDonald’s. If you ask Arthur or Harry, their friendship with Ray Kroc is one of the most important relationships in their business, as it turned out to be the cash cow for Otto & Sons.

Further growth and re-branding

As McDonald’s snowballed, it caused a ripple effect on Otto & Sons, who were still the leading suppliers of meat for most outlets that Ray Kroc opened. The growth was exponential and by the year 1975, Otto & Sons would rebrand to OSI Industries. Arthur and Harry having advanced in age and nearing retirement age, approached Sheldon Lavin to take over the running of the then multi-million company as an equal partner. Sheldon Lavin, who is still Chairman and CEO of OSI Industries, provided stable and excellent leadership, which is why the company is a howling success today.