One of Tyson Foods’ four Chicago processing centers was about to close up after the company decided they would cut their losses, but another processing company, OSI Group decided Tyson Foods didn’t want it, they did. OSI has made big plant acquisitions when they’ve felt their output could be greatly improved, and this deal was no exception since this south Chicago plant was in close proximity to another plant they own. But they also wanted to maintain and add jobs in the area, and even though many of the plant’s employees had already left, OSI kept the employees and managers who hadn’t. OSI Group has always looked for opportunities to grow their employee base and did so with two other acquisitions of Flagship Europe and Baho Food.
Before it was known as OSI Group, the company was just a Chicago Meat market store and butcher shop known as Otto & Sons. Its name came from Otto Kolschowsky who started the shop and taught his sons the butcher trade, and the market stayed in the family for more than 60 years. But what really put the company on the map was when they became the supply partner of McDonald’s when it was first making its fast food restaurants big. Otto & Sons saw its revenue increase with this new partnership, but they still needed much more funding to go as big as they wanted, so they hired consultant Sheldon Lavin to help obtain a large bank loan. That loan allowed them to build their first heavy machinery processing plant, and several more would follow. By 1975, Otto & Sons had become known as OSI Group.
OSI Group opened its first plant outside the US in 1978 in Germany, and from there they started their growth throughout Europe and into Asia. They now have 55 factories in 17 countries but have services in at least 60 countries. Sheldon Lavin was promoted from consultant to CEO and later chairman of the company and has remained at that post for more than 30 years. What Lavin and President David McDonald have said is that OSI will always be run more like a mom and pop business rather than a big corporation run from the top down. They also are committed to community involvement and giving support to organizations who have healthcare and education initiatives such as the Ronald McDonald House Charities and Inner City Foundation of Chicago.
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