Sheldon Lavin On Moving From Financial Consulting To Food

Sheldon Lavin is in his 80s, but he loves the work he does at OSI Group so much that he’s not wanted to retire yet. He took over OSI Group as CEO nearly 40 years ago and throughout those years has helped it build a great reputation in the meat industry. OSI Group benefitted from Lavin’s investment skills and new ideas that he brought to the company, and in recognition of those great ideas Global Vision Academy gave him the Global Visionary Award in 2016. He also was interviewed by Interview.net.

Lavin told Interview.net that he loved his time as a financial consultant because he was able to go into business for himself instead for the top managers on Wall Street. He said he went to OSI because he believed he could do big things with the company and set out to make those big things happen. Sheldon Lavin also emphasized in the interview that family is the model for his business, and he doesn’t simply believe in running things from the top down at OSI Group. Lavin also believes in the foundations that OSI Group supports and says the company would not be what it is without supporting the community.

Sheldon Lavin began his professional career working for several big banks before becoming an independent consultant and eventually joining OSI Group. The company was known as Otto & Sons back then and had been previously owned by Otto Kolschowsky, a German immigrant who had entered meat wholesale and turned a butcher shop into a larger meat market business. When Lavin joined in the 1970s, the company started building larger meat processing plants and investing in bigger infrastructure. Lavin only intended to serve as a part time financial advisor, but the Kolschowsky sons soon had him considering the importance of the company.

In the 1980s Lavin was appointed CEO and soon was sold the remaining shares of the company upon the Kolschowsky sons’ retirements. He endeavored to strengthen the relations between Otto & Sons and their key partner McDonalds, so he began opening more facilities overseas. Today OSI Group owns over 50 facilities in 17 different countries and has been listed at #10 among the world’s most profitable meat companies. During his time as CEO, Lavin has also been on the boards of Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, the Chicago Inner City Foundation, Jewish United Fund and Ronald McDonald House Charities.