When Otto Kolschowsky, looking to make a living for his family decided to turn back to his roots, taking up the trade of butcher that had been part of his family’s heritage for more than 2 centuries, he didn’t know that he would be starting something that would quite literally change the world. He didn’t know that he would be laying the foundation of a company that would not only grow well beyond the reach of the small German immigrant neighborhood known as Oak Park, on Chicago’s west side, and would one day, along with the worlds leading fast-food retailer, bring about a revolution to the meat packing industry that would forever alter protein manufacturing as the world knew it. He didn’t think about any of that, he just wanted to earn a buck and live the America dream. Otto started Otto’s meats in a small corner shop on the west side and word spread quickly about his fair business practices and exceptional quality. Soon he found himself with more customers than he could handle, and a lot of those customers were chefs and managers of the top-rated hotels and restaurants in the city. Rather than sacrifice quality to keep up, he knew that he needed to expand, and the first incarnation of what would later become the OSI Group was formed Otto Kolschowsky’s Meat Company.
The new business model included a wholesale division that delivered to those hotels and restaurants the proteins that they needed to provide the exceptional meals they wanted to serve to their customers. It didn’t take long for even more attention to be drawn to Otto and his incredible meats. A Further expansion, which includes his two sons led to the formation of Otto & Sons Meat. Times were good, but unbeknown to Kolschowsky’s, they were about to get a lot better. Elsewhere in the country, in fact, it seemed everywhere in the country, a new thing was all the rage, the fast food joint. Drive-in diners were especially popular with teenagers and one brand, in particular, had taken to the concept of franchization and was spreading like wildfire from coast to coast. McDonald’s was the place to be for every teenager after school, and even their parents had started to love the burgers, fries, shakes, and malts that were being served under the golden arches. As McDonald’s continued to expand, they found themselves in need of more local protein providers in each market, and in the upper Midwest, they knew that they only had one name that should be at the top of their list, and that name was Otto & Sons. The partnership of McDonald’s and Otto & Sons was a match made in heaven.
It didn’t take long for the high quality, rapid delivery, and excellent customer care that Otto & Sons had always had with every customer to win over the management of McDonald’s and as McDonald’s grew more and more so did their relationship with Otto & Sons. One more rebranding was on the horizons, and Otto & Sons emerged as the leader in restaurant supply chain protein sourcing, as the OSI Group. Today the OSI Group, more than a century after the first pound of ground chuck was sold by Otto in that little shop in Oak Park, Chicago, is the global leader in protein sourcing for food distribution outlets on every inhabited continent. With more than 20,000 direct employees and even more in their own upstream supply chain, the company operates 65 facilities in 17 countries. Provides over 200 individual protein products, including being the top innovator and provider of alternative proteins for markets such as India, the Middle East, and Israel, the OSI Group has positioned itself as an unbeatable force in the foodservice landscape. Yes, Otto may not have realized what it was that he was starting, but for everyone who loves to sit down with a Big Mac, fries, and a shake, and just enjoy the taste of a true classic, we are sure glad he started it.