From Humble Beginning To A Global Force, OSI Group Used Technology To Evolve And Grow

If German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky could step into a time machine and travel from year 1909 to 2017, he might be astounded at not only what his fledgling Chicago-area meat market has become — he also might be stunned by the way technology has transformed the meat processing industry from simple knives and butcher blocks to computers, renewable energy and high-tech factories enabled by multiple layers of advanced technology.

It was some 108 years ago that Mr. Kolschowsky established his family meat market in Oak Park, Illinois, a company today known as the OSI Group. It stands today as one of the largest companies in America with annual revenue of about $6 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

A time-traveling Otto Kolschowsky might also be delighted to learn that his once humble meat market now spans the globe with 65 facilities scattered across 17 countries. As of 2016, OSI Group ranked #59 on the list of largest privately-owned enterprises.

A key turning point in the OSI journey was the year 1955 when a certain tiny start-up restaurant called McDonald’s opened its first shop in Des Plaines, Illinois. It choose a company then called Otto & Sons to be its supplier of fresh ground beef patties.

The deal between McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc and the sons of Otto Kolschowsky was completed with a simple handshake – and the rest is history. Supplying beef to McDonald’s soon became Otto & Sons primary business. The relationship between McDonald’s and OSI Group remains to this day.

It’s interesting to imagine what Otto Kolschowsky would have thought of a modern OSI processing plant — leveraging wind generation and solar energy to power operations, or water faucets that drastically reduce the amount of water used, or systems of video cameras that aide point-to-point monitoring of all plant functions to provide maximum safety, sanitation and certification of meat production activity.

What started as a humble meat market 108 years ago has become a global force in the protein processing industry — and OSI continues to leverage the technological edge set the standard for safe, environmentally sustainable and efficient meat delivery today.

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