Fast-food companies dominate the food industry in many countries. Big-name companies like McDonald’s have thousands of locations all over the world. In particular, McDonald’s revolutionized the food industry in the early 1950s by forming an alliance that continues today. Those partnerships usually stay out of public view.
Behind McDonald’s curtains is OSI Group, former Otto & Sons. Otto & Sons’ story started with Otto Kolschowsky, a German immigrant who moved to America looking for a better life. Otto, like many European immigrants in the early 20th century, moved to Chicago, Illinois. At the time, Chicago was a major stopping point for immigrants moving west to establish independent farms.
In 1909, Otto opened a little butchery in Oak Park, a small German community on the west side of the city. He butchered his own meat and customers’ and also had a retail meat market in a separate part of the building. Within a decade, his business grew, and he moved operations to a larger Chicago suburb, Maywood, on the other side of town.
Following a trend set by other immigrant-owned business, Otto rebranded his company and made it a little more “American sounding.” He renamed the company Otto & Sons, adding his two sons, Harry and Arthur.
When Harry and Arthur took over the family business, their father’s little store was a significant player in the Midwest’s meat market. They continued their father’s legacy until the early 50s. Around that time, the food industry began changing, and family restaurants started taking on new looks and implementing new service strategies.
One day, Ray Kroc approached the young business owners and offered them the chance of a lifetime. Kroc wanted to open a new kind of restaurant, and he needed meat suppliers that could provide his restaurants with fresh ground beef.
It wasn’t after the first McDonald’s open that the brothers rebranded the company again, this time renaming its OSI Group. Today, OSI Group has over 60 facilities in over a dozen countries.