Osi Industries – Standing the Test of Time

Early last year, Osi Group celebrated over a hundred years of innovation in food processing. The celebrations were worthwhile seeing that Osi Industries has grown from a corner butcher to one of the biggest food providers  in the world. Today, the company’s labor force stands at 20,000, spread across its 65 facilities in 17 countries. The history of Osi Group has deep roots in the American immigrant experience. Otto Kolschowsky was one of the booming German-immigrants in Chicago, Illinois. Besides being a center of industry, the growing city served as an entry point for immigrants who were making their way to the west to begin farming on the plains. Two years after arriving in the US (1909), Otto established a small retail meat market, as well as a butcher shop to serve the needs of his community.

Within a decade, the entrepreneur had done a fantastic job with his outstanding establishment, and by the end of the First World War, he was serving wholesale clients – a growth that led to the opening of another business in Maywood, a Chicago suburb. By 1928, the company rebranded to Otto & Sons. The decade that followed saw Otto & Sons enjoy tremendous success and stability, and this continued even during after the Second World War. When the post-war economic expansion was starting to take shape, the sons of Otto, Harry, and Arthur, allied with one of the world’s most renowned brands, McDonald’s, which was founded by Ray Kroc. As McDonalds grew, so did Otto & Sons. The change from a regional supplier to a global supplier occasioned the renaming of the company to Osi Group.

One of the core elements of the franchising model by Kroc was to ensure the delivery of a consistent product. McDonalds’ core product was hamburgers. As such, Osi Industries was under pressure to produce affordable, consistent and consumer oriented products capable of reaching the ever-growing McDonald’s restaurants. During the late 1960s, a technological breakthrough enhanced the relationship between Osi Group and McDonald’s. Osi Industries discovered flash freezing. A cryogenic food processing method, flash freezing entails rapid freezing of foods with the help of liquid nitrogen. The discovery created not only fresh opportunities for product expansion, but also the reduction of costs within the food industry.

Thanks to this growth, the close historical ties with the restaurant, and the personal friendship between Kroc and Otto’s sons, Osi Industries became one of the four core suppliers of McDonald’s. It is difficult to tell the story of Osi Industries without mentioning the early identification of growth opportunities, superior client relationships, and most importantly, technological innovation. Today, Osi Group continues to grow. The company focuses its efforts on sustainability as well as environmental effects of modern food production.

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