How OSI industries evolved From a Corner Butcher to a Multinational Meat Distributor

Today, OSI industries rubs shoulders with equally huge food processing and distribution companies on the list of top food processors in the world. Such a prestigious position has only been achieved thanks to the over 20,000 employees working to ensure smooth operations in the company’s 65 processing facilities spread in 17 countries. It would be hard to imagine that just a century ago, the food processor was no more than a corner butcher shop Chicago. The company has had a rather interesting journey to success.

Traces of immigrant roots

Did you know that OSI industries, formerly known as Otto and Sons Company was born of an immigrant German? In 1909, a German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky opened up a meat shop in Oak Park, on the west side of Chicago. Unbeknown to him, an economic boom in the city that would last up to the great depression was speedily building up. The influx of people into the city saw what was once a small retail meat shop steadily transform into a wholesale shop for the meat supply in the city and its environs.

By the turn of the decade, Otto had already registered his business as a company under the name, Otto & Sons. The business would continue to flourish decades later and open up branches and processing facilities across the United States. At this time, Otto and Sons were the go-to meat supplier for the chain of restaurants and eateries that were also set up around the country.

Financial challenges and change of name to OSI Industries

However, the company wasn’t expanding as fast as the market and would soon be unable to meet supply demands. This fact could be attributed to cash flow challenges as well as the use of redundant and labor-intensive technologies. In the 1970s after missing a supply opportunity with one of company’s key client’s, McDonald, Otto’s Sons called in a Sheldon Lavin, an investment and finance specialist, to join the company as a partner.

Sheldon would help forge capitalization plans for the company as well as identify sources of funding to expand its operations. The success he achieved with the company, as well as his capital injection, saw him acquire a controlling stake in the food processing giant. This prompted a name change from Otto and sons to OSI industries. Under his stewardship, the company has been able to wither most challenges and penetrate the global food processing and distribution industry with the opening up and acquisition of facilities across the world.

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