The Innovation of Sheldon Lavin

Sheldon Lavin, CEO of OSI Food Group could be considered one of the most successful CEO’s of his time. As one of the largest food providers in the world, OSI Group employs more than 20,000 people within more than 60 facilities. Although the company is considered monster size now, it certainly wasn’t always this way. The company has continued to grow with the leadership of Sheldon Lavin, and others along with him that have embraced modern change and growth along the way. How did this successful company evolve from the beginning?

As the story goes, OSI Group has immigrant roots. This dates back to the days when at the turn of the 20th century, there was a growing presence of German immigrants within Chicago Illinois. This city was the center of industry, and it would become a turning point for immigrants that brought their own opportunities. Otto Kolschowsky along with his sons, ran the company until the sons reached retirement age. It was at this time that the sons approached Sheldon Lavin about running the company, the legacy they were so proud of. Asked to join as a partner, rather than just a leadership on the board, he did so.

Because Sheldon Lavin was not a stranger, and was approaching the opportunity as a consultant with an opportunity to invest, he was eager to be a part of the bigger plan for OSI Group in 1970. It was then that OSI began to grow and focus on increased production with their company. It would be in 1977 that OSI opened it’s very first facility just outside of Chicago and later in Utah. The growth was exciting, and it encouraged other companies to follow the same pattern. OSI competing closely with McDonald’s, the companies were looking for new ways to grow and enter new markets around the country. McDonald’s and OSI Group ended up discussing a joint venture, and soon it was known that the companies would work together for further growth around the globe.

The growth in international markets was inspiring, and it was the business acumen of Sheldon Lavin that prompted the company putting him into position as the Chairman and then CEO of OSI Group in the early 80’s. The strong relationship with McDonald’s that OSI built no doubt fostered a sense of leadership within OSI Group and within their marketplace. This is why today Lavin continues to focus on new opportunities and growth for the company.

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