The largest food provider and processor in the world, OSI Group, was founded in 1909 by Otto Kolschowsky. The company as recognized as one of the prime examples of the American dream, as it was started by Kolschowsky, who is a German-immigrant, as a small retail market and butcher’s shop in Chicago, Illinois. After the first World War, the humble market had expanded into a wholesaler and moved to Maywood, a different Chicago suburb. Its next significant jump didn’t occur until after the second World War however, as the first McDonald’s was opened in 1955 with an agreement from Otto’s sons, Arthur and Harry, to produce all of its ground beef. Considering what we know about McDonald’s as a company today, this would prove to be the first step OSI Group took onto the international stage.
McDonald’s quickly grew and so did the OSI Group as restaurants popped up all over the nation demanding fresh beef from the food processing company. Over the next two decades, both of these companies grew substantially as McDonald’s decided to start restaurants overseas. However, OSI Group was struggling to meet the demand as McDonald’s demanded more and more of its now signature ground beef for their burgers. This led to the first major innovation that the food-processing company crafted in 1960; The creation of flash freezing to allow ground beef to be shipped long distances without a decline in quality.
From here, the OSI Group found itself opening new facilities all over the country and eventually the world to meet ever-growing demand from both McDonald’s as well as local supermarkets and restaurants. The first plant built was in West Chicago in 1973 and was exclusively used to produce beef for the fast-food chain while the previous local butcher shop continued to supply local buyers. More plants were opened in the late 1970s, including a West, Jordan, Utah location as well as its first international locations in Germany and Spain. The company continued to grow and eventually opened plants in Brazil, Mexico, Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Pacific Rim in the late 1980s. Eventually, the firm even found itself in Asia as it entered a joint partnership with K&K Foods in 1986 and expanded its product line from just beef to bacon, sausage and hot dogs for Nation Pizza and Foods in 1996. All of this led to its current position, where it is ranked #58 on Forbes list of the largest private companies with a net-worth of $6.1 billion.