Category Archives: OSI Industries
A Lot Has Changed at OSI Industries Over a Century, But Some Things Never Will

It takes a lot of hard work, responsibility, and no doubt a bit of luck on your side to succeed. It takes a lot more than that to become a global leader in your industry and to be considered a pioneer and an innovator takes even more. Make no mistake, however, all of those words, success, global leader, pioneer, and innovator can all be applied to OSI Industries, and they earned every one of them. OSI hasn’t always been the multinational, multi-billion dollar food supply chain originator that it is today, however, they started out like so many other mega companies, small and with one man doing his damndest to make it, not for his shareholders but for himself and his family. In the case of OSI that was Otto Kolschowsky, and he wasn’t interested in being the number one provider of protein products to food distribution chains all over the world. Otto just wanted to make a comfortable living for him and his family, so that the American dream that his father had when he emigrated from Germany would be a little bit closer to reality.

Otto came from a long line of butchers, it was a trade he had learned from his father who worked in the meat packing plants after arriving in the United States. For that kind of work, at the end of the 19th century and into the newly born 20th century, Chicago was the place to be. Otto knew the business and he knew meat, and he decided that there was no better way to make use of his talents than to open his own meat market in the Oak Park area of the West Side of Chicago. It was an area that was filled with people just like him, German immigrants, and their children. These were his people, and he knew what they wanted and needed to feed their families the kind of dishes that they were used to in the old world. He was right, of course, the people of the neighborhood took a quick liking to not only the quality of his meat but also the high standards that he had for customer service. Soon word spread and Otto was getting customers from other neighborhoods, other ethnic groups, and they all wanted the same thing, they all wanted Otto’s high-quality meat.

Someone else took a notice of Otto as well, the restaurants and hotels in the area. They wanted Otto’s meat to be in their kitchens, and on their tables. They wanted to provide the best quality products to their highly discerning clientele, and in Chicago at that time, the best meant Otto. Soon Otto had to expand his business, bringing in his two sons, and growing out the operation to include a wholesale distributorship as well. It was a great time for the Kolschowsky family to be sure, but little did they know that there was one more major customer who had heard of them, and that customer was about to change their lives, and indeed change the world.

Roy Kroc was making quite a name for himself, serving up hamburgers from drive-in stands that he called McDonald’s. In fact, he was making such a name for himself and had done such a good job getting McDonald’s to be a household name, that the company could not keep up with the growth of its franchise operations in terms of product supply. They needed to increase their supply chain network, and as such began expanding their partnerships with local, regional providers of the high-quality ingredients that they needed, and that the customers who had quickly grown to love McDonald’s demanded. In the upper Midwest, they decided that Otto & Sons was just the kind of partner that they needed. It was a decision that would change both companies forever.

Soon, McDonald’s would expand their relationship with Otto & Sons to make them the sole provider of proteins to their entire system in North America, and eventually most major countries. This expansion led to not only a larger network operation for OSI Industries to serve the needs of McDonald’s, but also to begin expanding their customer base to provide product offerings to other large distribution outlets as well.

Today OSI Industries is the largest originator of proteins to the food service distribution sector in the world. The company operates 65 facilities in 17 countries on five continents. All told OSI Industries employs 20,000 people directly and thousands more when you take into account the jobs created upstream in their own supplier network. OSI helps to keep farmers and ranchers in business all over the world by giving them a guaranteed market outlet for their products that is independent of the ups and downs traditional commodities can be dependent on. OSI has become the largest producer of alternative proteins for special needs in areas such as India, where they offer beef alternatives, and Israel and the greater middle east where they provide pork and shellfish alternative, as well as foods which are able to be certified halal and kosher respectively.

Indeed, it has been a long journey over the last century, and a lot has changed for OSI from the time that Otto stood behind his meat counter and talked to the housewife from down the street. One thing has not changed, however, OSI is still committed to providing the best products of the highest quality to customers who demand and deserve the best and in doing so with an interest to treating everyone fairly and undertaking responsible and ethical business practices in everything that do every day.

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