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OSI Group Became Industry Leader Under Sheldon Lavin

Food processing giant OSI Group is celebrating its 100th year in business. The company’s roots can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century when German immigrant Otto Kolchowski opened a corner meat market in Chicago, Illinois. Today, the company has grown to a thriving, international business with over 20,000 employees in 65 countries.In the early 1900s, the Oak Park section of Chicago was one of the most successful business hubs in the U.S. Not only did Kolschowsky’s corner meat market do good, by the time WWI had ended, he had expanded and moved his operations to Maywood.

Shortly after the post-war business boom, budding entrepreneur Ray Kroc opened his own hamburger joint in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was during this time when Kroc was still working alongside San Bernadino, CA entrepreneurs Richard and Maurice McDonald.However, before McDonald’s took off, he entered into a handshake deal with Kolschowsky’s sons, Arthur and Harry, to supply his restaurants with fresh ground beef. This proved to be a fateful move in the restaurant industry. After buying out the McDonald brothers, it didn’t take long for McDonald’s to become the blueprint for fast-food franchises. It was now the responsibility of the Kolschowsky brothers to keep up with McDonald’s rapidly expanding demands.

By the 1960s, Otto and Sons became the primary beef supplier to McDonald’s and other restaurants. Armed with a number of technological breakthroughs such as cryogenic freezing, Otto & Sons consistently provided affordable, high-quality products. They also built in 1973, solely for the McDonald’s franchise.After the company became OSI Group in 1975, the Kolschowsky family needed to bring in more help beyond family members. In 1975, former consultant Sheldon Lavin joined as a partner. He was instrumental in helping with capitalization efforts.Lavin immediately ramped up OSI Group production by building several manufacturing facilities both in the U.S. and abroad. After becoming chairman and CEO in the early 1980s, Lavin continued to oversee the company’s global growth.In 2016, OSI Group was listed in Forbes Magazine at #58 among private companies, with $6.1 billion in sales.