For more than 20 years, the U.S. food processing giant OSI Group has nurtured its operations in China. Industry observers call it a textbook example of how an American company can build relationships in the Far East in a way that creates lasting partnerships. The extraordinary efforts of OSI Group President David McDonald have been a key factor in this America-China success story. He realized early on that making inroads into the enormous Chinese market was not something that could be done sitting at his desk at OSI headquarters in suburban Chicago.
David McDonald has traveled on location to China numerous times where he has spent countless hours meeting with local officials on levels, from the business realm to government regulators. He said in a recent interview that perhaps no two skills are more important than, “listening and patience.” He said one can’t go into China with the idea that you are going to set all the rules, make all the decisions and established a top-down operation. Rather, he said, it’s key to find out what local problems and needs are. Once you gain an understanding of what Chinese operators want and how they want to do it, you can offer solutions. OSI is set up in China as a HUSI. That’s a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise, or WFOE. It established its first operation in Beijing in 1992.
It opened its second facility in 1996 in Shanghai. By 2002, OSI had entered into the fresh produce sector in China. Then in 2010 the company delved into the vertically integrated poultry business partnering with Weihai Poultry in Shandong Province. It has since opened several more operation as the relationship between OSI and China continues to deepen and thrive. David McDonald said taking the long view on China means marshalling loads of patience and nurturing a details-oriented process to make it all happen. OSI Group currently operates nearly 70 facilities in 17 nations around the world. It employs more than 20,000 people. World headquarters are in Aurora, Illinois, very near where the company was first established more than a century ago.