OSI Industries is a multinational meat processing company that has gone from a local Chicago wholesale company to now having operations in 17 different countries. Most of the vision for their growth came from CEO Sheldon Lavin, who was just honored this last year at Global Vision Academy’s ceremony with the Global Visionary award. The story behind the award is how Lavin entered an industry he didn’t know much about, but was able to grow company from knowing how to manage money, and even more so investing in the well-being of the people there.
Sheldon Lavin spent many years in investment banking, and then moved from there into independent consulting. It was while doing that that he met OSI Group’s original owners, the Kolschowskys. Their company was then known as Otto & Sons, and it had started as a small Chicago butcher shop and grew into a big wholesale market company. Lavin was asked to help rearrange the finances of the company, and he also helped raise funds to open new processing centers as part of the demands of the company’s partner, McDonalds restaurants. Within a few years, Lavin was asked to come on as a full-time executive, but he didn’t want to leave his consulting firm. But after being offered an ownership stake and granted permission to manage the company as he saw fit, Lavin accepted with the vision to make it bigger than ever. By 1975 the company had become known as Otto & Sons and in 1978 its first overseas investment was made in Germany.
Lavin has managed OSI Group for nearly 50 years, and even though he’s over 80 years old he loves what he is doing so much, he doesn’t even consider quitting. Lavin says OSI Group has done well thanks to taking an interest in people and hearing their feedback and concerns, and he says the company really doesn’t consider its culture to be corporate at all. But Lavin also is involved in philanthropy and values volunteering his time at local Chicago charities including the Boys & Girls Club, Inner City Foundation of Chicago, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Jewish United Fund. Lavin is also a member of the North American Meat Institute.
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