The name OSI Group is globally synonymous with outstanding customer services in the distribution of high-quality food products. The company ranks as one of the world’s largest food wholesale businesses and has high profile clients such as McDonald’s, Papa John’s and KFC. Though OSI is today a world leader in the foodservice industry, its first incarnation was that of a local butcher shop in Oak Park, Illinois. This family-run butcher shop was the family business of Germany immigrant Otto Kolschowsky. Today, that small family meat market has locations in 17 countries worldwide with over 65 processing facilities. A large part of this worldwide expansion has been carefully guided by OSI CEO and Chairman Sheldon Lavin. Sheldon is responsible for a lot of the success that OSI Group enjoys today, but there is more to the story.
Otto Kolschowsky was the founder of OSI Group. A German immigrant, he came to the United States looking for the same opportunity that so many others came for. Otto made good on his dreams and started his family meat market in the Chicago area in Illinois. After establishing a good business, Otto decided to pursue wholesale meat distribution in the wake of World War I. 1928 saw the business given the name Otto and Sons and the 1950s saw the sons of Otto Kolschowsky make a deal with the rising star of the restaurant world, McDonald’s. This relationship still exists today and supplying McDonald’s was a huge boost in OSI Group’s fortunes and more
It was in the 1970s that Sheldon Lavin first arrived on the scene at OSI as a financial advisor to the Kolschowsky brothers as they expanded operations. Due to his high level of success and keen mind, Sheldon Lavin soon became one of the partners. When the brothers retired, Sheldon Lavin was the sole controller of the company. The operation was renamed OSI Group in the mid-70s. Sheldon’s biggest push during his time with OSI, beyond maintaining the firms traditional family values, has been to expand. He has been a constant presence behind OSI Group’s steady expansion from being a U.S. firm to a global one.