Many people know Sheldon Lavin as chairman and CEO of the food processing giant the OSI Group. But this multitalented 86 year old is much more than that. Born in 1932, in the middle of the Great Depression, Lavin has the drive and determination that marks the people raised in this difficult time period. He graduated from three universities, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois and has degrees in accounting, business and finance. Before he became involved in the food industry, Lavin had a successful career as a banker and ran his own Chicago based financial consulting firm for 15 years.
In 1970, Otto & Sons, a meat market based in West Chicago, turned to Lavin for help for the financing they needed to expand. Impressed with the company’s potential Sheldon Lavin got them the money and began buying stock in the company. When the owners of Otto & Sons retired in the late 1970s, Lavin took over the company and changed its name to the OSI Group. Since then he has been on a mission of global expansion. Lavin’s food processing company now has customers in more than 80 countries and 70 food processing plants in almost 20 nations on 5 continents. He has turned the OSI Group into a global food processing enterprise worth several billion dollars.
Sheldon Lavin has expanded the product line of the former meat market to include vegetable, fish, poultry and specialty dough products. Their customers include private label retail outlets, restaurants, supermarkets, food service distributors as well as industrial companies. Now based in Aurora, Illinois, the OSI Group is known for providing innovative food processing solutions to meet their customers’ needs. Sheldon Lavin’s expansion efforts has seen the OSI Group open food processing plants, acquire businesses and develop a customer base of millions throughout Asia and Europe.
Sheldon Lavin’s commitment to proper environmental management policies and practices, the generous benefits package he created for his staff and the family-like culture he has maintained as the company has grown makes the company unique. Sheldon Lavin is focused on more than the expansion and diversification of the OSI Group. He also provides support for Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Sheba Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Chicago and many other groups. Lavin also played a leadership role at the Rush University Medical Center and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
David McDonald is the long-serving President of OSI Group the noted international food processor and he’s been a critical figure as they’ve successfully expanded over the years. They have steadily grown the business as they’ve focused on protein as their primary product though they do many others as well. These products are the result of partnerships with leading food and retail companies.
In a recent interview, he spoke of the unique corporate culture at OSI Group. Growth is an imperative at the company as they are always looking to improve and expand. He indicated that this mindset is a cornerstone of their business and one reason that they excel. He also spoke of their global outlook searching for new opportunities as they seek to become a valued partner to others.
An entrepreneurial agility is something that OSI Group is noted for and David McDonald spoke of how this impacts their expectations. He indicated that it is understood by all that they will go above and beyond to meet the needs of their customers. This often brings in an element of creativity which is greatly encouraged by the company. Flexibility and communication by both parties are also crucial to the development of successful products.
A long-term horizon has also benefited OSI Group according to David McDonald. As they develop key relationships with top brands, time and patience can be a difference maker in helping the two parties flourish.
Another factor that benefits the company is their private ownership. This allows them to be flexible and fast moving when implementing solutions. McDonald indicated that this critical element helps set apart OSI Group as a food processor.
The management structure of OSI Group was also expounded on by David McDonald and it combines direction from the executive staff with creative implementation by local management teams. This system has greatly benefited the company as they have deep corporate resources to draw upon as well as the flexibility of local managers intimately involved with their markets.
Innovation is one of OSI Group’s calling cards and this is often in response to customer needs. McDonald relayed that the company finds inspiration in helping to solve business problems their customers may have. He gives an example of a company struggling in a particular food segment. OSI Group then turns to their culinary creation teams to help find a timely solution. It’s just one example of how McDonald and OSI Group provide great value and service to their customers.
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The OSI Group is a meat and food processing industry leader. The company was founded in Oak Park, Illinois in 1909 by Otto Kolschowsky, an immigrant from Germany. The company was initially a neighborhood meet market called Otto & Sons. In the 1950s they made a deal to provide ground beef to Ray Kroc for a new fast-food chain he had just started called McDonalds. As McDonalds grew so did Otto & Sons. Eventually the company started providing specialty products to supermarket and restaurants in addition to their work with McDonalds. The company changed its name to OSI Industries in 1975.
Since that time OSI Industries has grown tremendously. It is now called the OSI Group. From its new headquarters in Aurora, Illinois, CEO Sheldon Lavin manages a staff of over 20,000 in over 70 facilities in 17 countries. The privately-held American company processes and packages meat and other food products for many companies in the food service and retail industries. The company has over $6.1 billion in assets and according to the Forbes list they are America’s 58th ranked company. Their products include meat patties, fish, hot dogs, bacon, poultry, pizza, pork, vegetable and dough products. Click here to know more.
The OSI Group supplies meat to a wide array of western fast food chains doing business in China. It is also China’s largest poultry producer. And the company continues to grow. The OSI recently purchased Baho Food and Flagship Europe. They also bought a large, modern Tyson Foods plant. The OSI Group’s facilities have won many environmental management and health and safety awards. The British Safety Council awarded the OSI Group its 2016 Globe of Honor.
The company uses its agility and entrepreneurial passion to create new and innovative ways to provide its countless worldwide clients with the highest quality next-generation food solutions.
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