How A Friendship With Ray Kroc Led To OSI Group Becoming International In Scope

Since the 1970s OSI Group has been a multinational food processing company. It employs over 20,000 people who work in 65 food processing plants located in 17 different nations. It was founded as a butcher shop and retail store in 1909, though. It’s founder, Otto Kolschowsky, was a German immigrant who had only been in the US for two years when he decided to open his own business. Over the next decade, Otto expanded his business into also being a wholesaler of meat. He brought his two sons, Arthur and Henry, onboard and renamed his company Otto & Sons. Over time wholesaling meat became the main focus of the company.

What really caused the company to expand, though, was Arthur and Henry’s friendship with Ray Kroc. He was a franchise agent for a family restaurant opened in 1940 by two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald. Ray Kroc was the first person to open a McDonald’s franchise location. He chose to source the beef for hamburgers from his friends at Otto & Sons. McDonald’s, of course, was a huge success and started rapidly expanding across the state of Illinois, then the Midwest, the rest of the United States, and the world. Otto & Sons transitioned into mainly supplying McDonald’s with processed beef, although since that time they have partnered with several other restaurant chains as well. OSI Group is now a global company and processes many types of food beyond beef.

One of these is poultry, something they first started processing in the 1990s. Many people around the world are eating more chicken than ever. One of this company’s first international facilities is in Toledo, Spain. The manager of this OSI Group location says that chicken demand has been steadily going up for years and so in order to keep up this plant needed to be upgraded. OSI Group spent 17 million euros upgrading this plant. They doubled the amount of poultry they can process here, going from 12,000 tons of it a year to 24,000 tons. They made additional improvements as well for food safety and energy conservation purposes. They also hired 20 more people, adding to the 140 that were already working at this location.

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