Usually when you measure the success of a business and its leaders, it’s usually graded on the profits its made, the years it’s been in business and the brilliance of its leaders. One company in the food industry has had so much success that it’s lasted for over 100 years and is guided by a man who not only has had vision in business, but has a simple way that he runs things. That company is OSI Group led by CEO Sheldon Lavin. Lavin may be aging physically as one of the oldest CEOs up there with Warren Buffet, but his passion has not diminished one bit. Lavin’s success turning OSI Group from a local meat wholesale merchant to a worldwide billion-dollar company didn’t just come from his being a strategist or even an innovator, but a man who values people working for the company just as much as its business.
Sheldon Lavin has said in interviews that he and his colleagues don’t run this company like a regular corporate giant even though they do consider Chicago to be its main headquarters. He says instead that they like to consider managers and even employees under them as their extended family, and even with companies they acquire they usually treat the current owners of those companies like partners and sometimes even let them continue using their brand name. Sheldon Lavin can also be characterized as a very friendly and down to earth man who even prefers that people call him “Shelly” instead of “Mr. Lavin.”
What might be surprising about Lavin’s family style culture at OSI Group is that he came from the very corporate world that he’s not followed the norms of. He was in investment banking for much of his early days, and OSI Group was then called Otto & Sons when he first heard about it. He was an independent consultant when the owners of Otto & Sons first reached out to him, and he helped the company get on solid financial footing and procured a loan to purchase a new plant for the company. As Otto & Sons started operating more efficiently under Lavin’s guidance, the owners started asking him to take over more of company and come on full-time. Lavin didn’t want to do this at first because he loved his consulting job, but after talking some more with the owners and their partners, he decided to to do it because he would get the owner’s shares and could build the company in any way he wanted.
Sheldon Lavin changed the name of Otto & Sons to OSI Industries and its OSI Group chain in the late 1970s because it was now going international with its factories and logistics centers. Today it now owns over 50 processing plants in 17 different countries with even more plans on the way. Sheldon Lavin has not only put in work in OSI Group but is also a donor to national park foundations, health research organizations, the Jewish United Fund and he’s on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. He was honored for this work at a ceremony at India’s Global Vision Academy in 2016.
Sheldon Lavin’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/public/Sheldon-Lavin