Global Vision Academy has an awards ceremony honoring those who have contributed to businesses and philanthropies impacting the world, and in 2016 their honorary recipient of the Global Visionary award was Sheldon Lavin, the CEO of OSI Industries. Lavin has been at this position for more than 40 years and is over 80 years old, yet he has never tired of serving his company, customers and employees and he’s been more than generous to his local and global communities. He took over a US-based meat wholesale company not knowing much about the industry, but his innovative spirit and friendly personality have helped build that company into one of the world’s largest meat processors and distributors.
The way Lavin’s career began was in banking and investing and prior to running OSI Industries, he had started his own financial consulting business. OSI Industries was actually known as Otto & Sons back then because it had been founded by Otto Kolschowsky in the early 20th century, and since then his sons had taken over the company and had secured a partnership with McDonalds. But this partnership required some more financing on Otto & Sons part because McDonalds was poised to expand heavily overseas and they wanted Otto & Sons to be able to match their demands. It was then that the Kolschowsky sons turned to Sheldon Lavin for assistance arranging the financing, and he was able to accomplish this without many hitches that they asked him to be more involved with the company.
Sheldon Lavin was starting to spend more time at Otto & Sons than he had originally planned, and at first he wanted to pull back from the company because he felt his true passion lay in finances, but he was eventually approached to become CEO of the company with an ownership stake and with the backing of the McDonald’s board. Upon hearing that he could grow Otto & Sons as big as he wanted, Lavin accepted the offer and eventually he was sold all controlling shares. By the mid 1970s, Lavin had changed the company name to OSI Industries because Otto & Sons had now gone international. Sheldon Lavin has opened more than 50 factories since then spanning across 17 different countries with his most recent acquisitions being in the UK with Flagship Europe, the Netherlands with Baho Food and even a local Chicago Tyson plant that might have otherwise closed down. Lavin also won the Edward Jones award for Community Service a couple years ago for his involvement with the Inner City Foundation of Chicago and being on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Sheldon Lavin’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/public/Sheldon-Lavin