The chain of events that led Sheldon Lavin to become CEO of OSI Group began over a hundred years ago, with an immigrant in west Chicago named Otto Kolschowsky. Seeking to make his fortune in the new world, he started a butcher shop called Otto & Sons, which operated as a local butcher shop for many decades. All that changed when they met McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc and became his first supplier of ground beef.
Sheldon Lavin came into the picture in the 1970’s, when Otto Kolschowsky’s two sons brought him on as a partner. In this position, he oversaw the process of turning Otto & Sons into OSI Group. In other words, he was brought on board to help them make the transition from a local company to an international one. Not only did he aggressively grow the production side of the business, he also opened up new operations in Germany, Austria, Spain, Brazil, the United States, Poland, the Philippines, Mexico, China and Taiwan. By the end of the 1990’s they were sitting on one of the biggest companies in the industry.
As production expanded, the demand for their products also expanded with it. Accordingly, they began acquiring smaller companies in order to keep up. Sheldon Lavin, starting in the early 2000’s, began the process by acquiring a Chinese produce company. Next in line was an Australian beef company. Next was an American poultry company in 2006, and also a beef company in Japan.
Perhaps the most lucrative deal he made was with UK-based Pickstock. By partnering with Pickstock, OSI Group was able to significantly expand their operations in Europe. Pickstock, in return, was able to get access to a much larger market and a much wider variety of goods. In Germany, a similar deal with EDEKA was similarly beneficial. EDEKA is a large supermarket chain which needed to improve its supply. In spite of their popularity, they were having trouble Sheldon Lavin getting high quality meat at a good price. OSI Group was more than able to meet their needs, gaining a new marker for themselves in the process.
But Sheldon Lavin didn’t stop there. He continued this expansion at an amazing rate, Sheldon Lavin acquiring a Tyson Foods plant in Chicago for 7.4 million dollars. That one was deemed necessary because of its close proximity to OSI Group’s existing facilities.
At 85 years of age, Mr. Lavin hasn’t slowed down a bit. He is still working to build the company to new heights just as he always has. As the company moves into the future with a green initiative that promises to change everyhing, he will surely remain at the helm of what is now a very big and profitable ship.
For details: www.crunchbase.com/person/sheldon-lavin