You’re probably familiar with various fast food brands like McDonald’s and Burger King or one of America’s premium pizza franchises in Pizza Hut, but usually not enough credit goes to the company that’s supplied those restaurants with the delicious meats over the years. That company is OSI Industries and its flagship OSI Food Group led by Chairman and CEO Sheldon Lavin. Lavin has been in this business over 40 years and has not only made bold decisions with company financial investments over the years, but he’s also poured a lot of those investments and his own personal time to taking care of the company’s many employees. Lavin says that the company has long had a family foundation that has guided how it operates even before he came to it, but he’s made sure even with its billion-dollar growth that it retains that foundation.
The family that owned OSI Industries before Sheldon Lavin arrived was the Kolschowsky family that had turned a butcher shop into a meat wholesale company named Otto & Sons that was now gaining clients in the now popular fast food industry including McDonald’s. They realized they were going to need to invest in large production plants to meet the needs of their new clients, but they needed someone who could secure financing for them. Lavin was just the man to do it because he had previously been an investment banker and had connections at various Chicago banks. Upon securing the company’s loan, Lavin had been asked to become an owner in the company but he didn’t want to do that since he felt his consulting company was what he wanted to stay with. Years later though as he started managing Otto & Sons’ budgets and started becoming passionate about the food industry, he accepted the position as company CEO and after it was renamed to OSI Industries, he bought the ownership shares from the now retired former owners.
Sheldon Lavin started financing and building company plants around the US, Canada and into Europe and Asia which today totals 17 countries including their partner groups OSI China, Amick Farms, Baho Food and GenOSI. Lavin also made philanthropy an important part of the company’s investments and has given to groups in Chicago like the Inner City Foundation, the Jewish United Fund and the McDonald’s House Charities group. His path into the food industry and taking the risks he did with OSI was documented in a special award ceremony hosted at Global Vision Academy in India not long ago.