Founding of OSI Group Formally Known As Otto & Sons

OSI Group, LLC operates as an entrepreneurial company and is one of the largest meat suppliers for western food companies in Asia. The company ranks 58th on the Forbes list of largest private companies of this year 2016 at $6.1 billion. Sheldon Lavin is the current Chairman and CEO of the company, however, the founder and original owner was a German immigrant named Otto Kolschowsky. In 1909, Otto Kolschowsky started a family meat market in Oak Park, Illinois which was two years after he first came to America.

Mr. Kolschowsky grew the small family market into the wholesale meat trade, relocating the establishment near a Chicago suburb called Maywood. It was then in 1928 the company became known as Otto & Sons and over several decades of years, Otto & Sons built a local reputation of offering quality, value meats. Interestingly enough, in the year 1955 when McDonald’s was just a beginning start-up, Otto & Sons had been chosen as the supplier of fresh ground beef patties. McDonald’s had opened it’s first food establishment in Des Plaines, Illinois. The subcontract between the two companies was finalized between Ray Kroc, the founder and CEO of McDonald’s, and the two sons of Otto Kolschowsky with a handshake.

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Ray Kroc, Arthur Kolschowsky and Harry Kolschowsky had formed a strong personal relationship throughout the years. Late into the 1960s Otto & Sons became one of the four main meat suppliers for local McDonald’s restaurants. In 1970 Otto & Sons had goals for expanding their business, but would need more financing to make that a reality. Otto & Sons was met by the now famous Chairman and CEO of the company, Sheldon Lavin.

Lavin had a previously successful career as investor and executive in the banking industry. At the time, Lavin had his own financial consulting firm and the bank requested that he have an ownership position in Otto & Sons. However, he turned the request down because that wasn’t in his consulting practice. Sheldon Lavin did agree though to act as consultant and set conditions with Otto & Sons stating if he ever did become a partner, his financial investment would be of the same leverage as the Otto family.

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By 1975, Lavin became more involved when Otto & Sons was beginning to search for overseas investments. During this time, Otto Kolschowsky had retired from the business and Lavin joined as a partner with Otto’s two sons. McDonald’s had then asked for Sheldon Lavin to come into the company full time so that the two companies could continue to grow together. Otto & Sons would now be known as OSI Group and expanded across North America and Europe for the rest of 70s. The business further grew in the 1980s into South America and Taiwan. By this time Arthur and Harry Kolschowsky had retired from OSI Group and Lavin gained full control of the company.

Sheldon Lavin’s influence in the 80s really showed as OSI Group spread further across countries such as the Philippines, China, Australia, Japan, India and South Africa. As of present day, Lavin is 81 years old and shows no sign of stopping. OSI Group currently has more than 55 facilities in 17 countries and the company’s newest addition to their networks as of August 8, 2016 is Baho Food.

Baho Food is a privately owned Dutch company that provides meat products and other food items. The reason this company is an excellent acquisition is because Baho Food has five subsidiary businesses in Germany and the Netherlands. These five companies, Gelderland Frischwaren, Vital Convenience, Henri van de Bilt, Bakx Foods and Q Smart life provide a variety of deli meats and snacks for customers ranging in 18 European countries. As Sheldon Lavin is heavily targeting expansion in Europe and Asia, this addition to OSI Group is crucial for continued growth.

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