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The Growth of OSI Group under the Leadership of Sheldon Lavin

OSI Group is internationally known as a leading food provider company, with a growth history spanning over a century. The company started out as a retail meat supplier in Chicago, transformed into a wholesale fresh meat supplier, and developed into a prominent player in the food processing industry. But the company’s growth is a result of strong leadership foundation, notably, from the CEO Sheldon Lavin.

The Entrance of Lavin into OSI Group

Lavin started associating with OSI Industries in 1975 as a partner. As the owners – Arthur Kolschowsky and Harry Kolschowsky – needed to retire from active leadership roles. This was also an opportune time for Lavin’s entrance into the company – it required a structured leadership model to spearhead its global growth vision. Consequently, Sheldon Lavin assumed the roles of CEO and Chairman of OSI Group in the 1980’s; he is still the CEO presently.

Early Growth of OSI under Lavin

Since 1909 when it was founded, Otto & Sons had multiplied. In the mid-century, it became the sole supplier of fresh meat to McDonald’s restaurant chains. It needed to expand its reach and assume an international appeal, leading to rebranding from Otto & Sons to OSI Group. The global growth vision was the starting implementation for Sheldon Lavin as he joined the business.

As the CEO, Lavin steered the company toward opening branches in Austria, Taiwan, Brazil, Spain, and Germany. Later on, it expanded its operations to Mexico, Philippines, Poland, and China. By 2015, it had opened additional branches in the US other than the original International Headquarters in Aurora Illinois.

Diversification and Acquisitions

During Lavin’s tenure at OSI, the company has diversified its business focus – opening poultry services in various countries. The first acquisition was in 2002 when OSI started focusing on China’s fresh produce sector. This was followed by Australian acquisition making OSI a player in Australia’s beef market. Similarly, OSI opened a Japan’s beef production business in 2010 and expanded its operations to areas like Canada and India.

Among the prominent acquisitions engineered by Sheldon Lavin include the Tyson, Baho Food Controlling in the Netherlands, Flagship Europe in the UK, and the Hynek Schlachthof in German. Lavin’s growth strategy has seen the company grow to over 20,000 employees.

About Sheldon Lavin:

OSI Industries Sees Chicken Meats Double In Spain Facility

OSI Industries grew into the European market with a high capacity processing plant in Spain established in 1990, and it was announced not long ago that they just added new production lines to the facility that doubled its chicken production from 12,000 metric tons to 24,000. The managing director of OSI Spain, José María del Río said that chicken demand has been growing in that region for some time and it was time to add to the existing plant to meet the customer demands in Spain. With this new expansion the company added 20 new jobs to its existing 140 at the plant, and a new product development manager has also come to it. OSI Industries President David McDonald has said the addition will be a big help to OSI Industries’ growth strategies in the region.

OSI Industries has been building its overseas portfolio for over 40 years, but it started out as a regular wholesale company in the midwest. Chicago resident and German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky started this company back in 1909 and grew it from a home-based butcher shop to a marketplace that served many local businesses. It became known as Otto & Sons company in 1926 and it survived all the way through the Great Depression and picked up its first big client in McDonald’s in 1955. At that point the company owners realized they were headed to unprecedented growth like nothing they had ever seen before, and that’s when financial consultant and former investment banking manager Sheldon Lavin came aboard. As Lavin began taking over the company it saw meat sales soar and soon moved with McDonald’s to new regions in South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. OSI Industries is currently ranked number 10 in the meat industry international scale, and number 54 overall in total food processing.

OSI Industries was originally just focused on beef, poultry, pork and fish in their production, but they have become inclusive of vegetable and salad mixes as well as including baked items and pastries. Along with the slicing and dicing tools on their assembly lines and high capacity refrigeration containers, they’ve employed research teams with state-of-the-art equipment for creating and testing new meat entrees. OSI Industries also takes care to make sure their facilities have safety guards and maintain environmental-friendly standards amidst production, and they were given an award by the British Safety Council in recognition of their efforts.

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Sheldon Lavin, OSI Group CEO

Today, one of the most influential people in the meat industry is 81-year-old Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OSI Group. Mr. Lavin is well known throughout the meat industry, but his foray into this business was indirect at best, as he began his career as an outsider with little knowledge of the operations of the meat industry. Before Mr. Lavin considered getting involved in the meat industry, he was a successful business executive and investor in the banking industry, all while heading his own financial investment firm. While he initially began as an outsider in the industry, today he has taken the small company to the top, transforming it into a global powerhouse. It was in 1970 that Mr. Lavin had his first encounter with the business side of the meat industry, as he agreed to help secure funding for Otto and Sons; a small company that needed funding for a proposed meat processing facility that would allow Otto and Son’s to become the Midwest distributor of meat for McDonald’s Corporation. While helping to secure funding for Otto and Son’s, Mr. Lavin was asked by the bank to come aboard the company due to his strong knowledge of financial operations. While Mr. Lavin declined to become a full partner at Otto and Son’s, he did agree to become a consultant, with the option to join the company at a later date under the initial terms. In 1975, Mr. Lavin became more involved with the operations of Otto and Son’s, which at that point had been rebranded OSI Group. By the 1980’s, Mr. Lavin had acquired a controlling stake in OSI Group and pledged to take the company to a new level, overseeing its rapid expansion into untapped areas around the world, such as China, Japan, Australia, South Africa, and the Philippines.

Mr. Lavin is still currently very involved in the daily operations of OSI Group and also contributes substantially to various charities around the world. He and his wife of 55 years are also enjoying flourishing marriage, and consider OSI Group as their extended family.

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