OSI Group has been one of the most respected companies in the meat processing and distribution industry. The company is based in Chicago and has built one of the most dynamic operations since becoming international in the 1980s. But a big reason for OSI’s sustained success is the people that run it including CEO Sheldon Lavin, a visionary in his own right who has won numerous accolades including the Global Visionary Award from the World Vision Academy and the Meat Institute’s Edward C. Jones Community Service Award. For Lavin the journey all began when the Kolschowsky family asked him to be a part of their company.
Sheldon Lavin actually started out in the big banks in various cities of the US. He became knowledgeable in stocks and bonds while working for the large investment banks, but then he left to become a private financial consultant. While doing this, Otto & Sons as the company was called then asked him to offer his expertise to their financial planning. Not long before, the Kolshowskys’ Otto & Sons company had entered an agreement with McDonalds owner Ray Kroc to become the restaurant chain’s main meat supplier and they needed someone who could help them strategically grow the company to match McDonalds’s demands.
At first Lavin only worked with OSI Group on a part time basis and was interested in staying low key as an independent consultant, but he was impressed by Otto & Sons and McDonalds’ ethical standards and after much consideration decided to buy an ownership stake in the company. When the Kolschowsky sons retired, they sold their remaining shares to Lavin because they believed he had the best expertise to lead the company. In the 1980s Lavin decided to build something bigger and better and take the company global, and he renamed it to OSI Group. He has been the leader behind acquisitions such as Tyson Food Plant’s south Chicago branch and several factories owned by Baho Food Group in Europe. Lavin is also a philanthropist who is on the Ronald McDonald House Charities board.