OSI Group buys Chicago Tyson plant, saves 250 jobs

Last year, as the rest of the country celebrated Thanksgiving, the employees at Chicago’s Tyson foods plant worried about finding new work when the plant announced it would close the following year. Things looked bleak for its nearly 480 workers at the facility located in the city’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. As the months to closure passed, it streamlined its production staff, letting go about 230 employees before its final production day on June 2, 2016, reported The Chicago Tribune.

Then, just as production halted, Chicago’s hero arrived dressed as the Aurora, IL firm OSI Group. OSI Group, currently ranked 58th on Forbes’ list of America’s largest companies, decided to grow a little more. Although its August acquisition of the Dutch Baho Foods made larger financial news, its June acquisition of the Ashland Avenue facility meant more as an American company. Rather than simply acquire the building, OSI Group extended offers of employment to most of the remaining Tyson employees – about 250 people.

The privately held company, OSI Group, is a holding company of meat processors founded in 1909 that generated $6.1 billion in revenue in 2015. It makes a variety of food products for retail brands and the food service industry. For instance, its Baho acquisition broadened its presence and capabilities in Europe. Its products include bacon, pizza, fish, meat patties, breakfast sausages, poultry and vegetable products.

Its current operation includes more than 60 facilities in 16 countries employing more than 20,000 people. Acquiring Baho added processing plants in Germany and The Netherlands. As diverse as it has become the company that still calls Illinois its home state hasn’t forgotten its roots.

According to The Chicago Tribune, OSI Group purchased the Chicago facility for $7.4 million. But the purchase had priceless repercussions. The Aurora company noted on its website the close proximity of the 200,000-square-foot facility to its other Chicago buildings. The firm stated the acquisition would “provide the infrastructure to support continued business growth.”

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While Tyson had cited its inability to meet customer needs at the Chicago location, the opposite proved true for OSI Group.

“This facility enhances our capabilities to meet the rapidly evolving needs of our customers,” Kevin Scott, senior executive vice president for OSI North America, told The Tribune. “We are excited to have this facility as part of the broader OSI manufacturing network.”

To about 250 Chicago families, OSI Group also provided job security and a happier holiday season this year.