The food distribution and specifically meat processing industry is one of the most competitive in America and being able to compete with big chains like Tyson Food and Perdue Farms is not easy. But that’s what OSI Industries has been able to do under the leadership of Sheldon Lavin. Lavin has not only become an expert in leading innovation in meat flavor and production but he also has focused on how to make OSI a great place to work. Lavin values recognizing leaders in other companies, and in one of his most recent deals with Flagship Europe in the UK, he asked their current CEO Russell Maddock to stay on and continue doing what he’s done best. Lavin has been at OSI Group for a long time and is over 80 years old, but he’s vowed as long as he can do his job he will because he loves the people at the company.
Sheldon Lavin didn’t know much about meat processing or its technology, but he was very good with money. He had been an advisor at a Chicago investment bank and was running a consulting company when he got to know Otto & Sons, the previous name of OSI Industries. Lavin originally worked with the company to help obtain bank loans as they sought to build processing and logistics centers to supply meat to McDonald’s restaurants, but he became substantially more involved as he became an executive with the company. He had at first declined any ownership interest in the company because the financial world was what he knew best, but the Otto & Sons owners believed turning the company over to him would be in its best interests for the future. So Lavin gladly accepted when the company was renamed to OSI Industries, and he began its growth in 1978.
OSI Industries is listed in the top 100 of total food processing companies and the top 10 in the meat sector with over 50 plants in operation, 17 countries they’re housed in and over 60 that they provide service to. Lavin learned a lot from the company’s initial owners and even though technology and profits have grown the company substantially, he’s never wavered from the roots of family business and expressing care for employees and customers alike. Lavin also has used his influence at the company to advocate for and support charities that help needy communities in the company’s hometown of Chicago and around the world including organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, the Jewish United Fund, the Multiple Sclerosis Institute and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Lavin was honored a few years ago at the North American Meat Institute gathering with the Edward C. Jones award for community service.
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