Founded in 1909 as a family-owned neighborhood meat market and butcher shop in the Chicago area called Otto & Sons, the OSI Group is now a global food industry juggernaut. The man behind the company’s explosive growth into an international powerhouse is CEO Sheldon Lavin. He has been at the helm for almost 40 years and has led the company to a spectacular series of expansions. Through building and acquisitions the company now has over 70 food production facilities in 17 countries on 5 continents. All of this growth is a result of Sheldon Lavin’s long-term vision.
Lavin has vast business experience and a wide range of skills. After studying accounting and finance in college, Lavin went on to have a lucrative career in banking. He then started an accounting firm and became active in investing. It was when Otto & Sons came to Lavin’s accounting company for financial help that he became interested in the food industry. Sheldon Lavin arranged the financing for them and became a major investor in the company. He was impressed with the quality of their products and their potential for growth. By the early 1980s, Lavin owned the company.
As soon as he took control of the company, Lavin changed its name to the OSI Group and began to implement a very aggressive global expansion plan. It included controlling food processing facilities in as far flung places as Australia, Brazil, China, Hungary and Mexico. Lavin increased the OSI Group’s production efforts in the United States by building food processing facilities in Riverside, California, Chicago, West Chicago and Geneva, Illinois, West Jordan, Utah, Oakland, Iowa and Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. He also acquired an Amick Farms facility on the East Coast of the U.S.
Sheldon Lavin is now a legend in the food services industry. His company has a presence in 85 countries, 10 facilities in China and he is expanding their European customer base by buying Baho Foods in the Netherlands and U.K. based Flagship Europe. Even with his extensive expansion efforts, the quality of the food the OSI Group produces has improved and the variety has increased. Plus, the production and environmental stewardship procedures he has created has led to the Lavin and his company winning dozens of awards and numerous accolades. Recently Sheldon Lavin was given the Global Visionary award by the Vision World Academy for his work in building the OSI Group.