Q&A with Food Executive Sheldon Lavin

Sheldon Lavin, Chairman and CEO of OSI Group

Sheldon Lavin, who’s the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OSI Group, has a prestigious profile in the meat and food processing industry. Lavin stays active in all facets of the company’s numerous global operations, ensuring efficiency and quality are of the highest priority.

Since 1970, when Lavin helped finance Otto & Sons, which eventually evolved into OSI Group, the successful food executive has gained extensive industry expertise and used it to become the tycoon he is today. With Lavin’s vision and leadership, OSI Group has rapidly expanded from a domestic food processing enterprise to an international blueprint for business success. For young entrepreneurs, he’s been an example of what it means to serve and lead.

To recognize the significant strides that Lavin has made in the industry, which have propelled OSI Group onto the international scene and contributed to tremendous job growth across the globe, India’s Vision World Academy presented him with a Global Visionary Award in 2016. In the year prior, RSM US LLP honored him with a 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for his unrivaled commitment to service and the Chicago business community.

Sheldon Lavin has stated multiple times that he’s humbled and honored by such recognition, emphasizing that he’s proud of the work he’s accomplished and the people who have helped him grow OSI Group into the global processing powerhouse that the best in the business think of it as today. Lavin has spent his life dedicated to the overall welfare of the company and its many employees, making sure the people who work under his direction always feel heard and are compensated for their hard work. If you ask his employees, he’s known as the best boss they’ve ever had the pleasure of working for.

While expanding OSI Group’s multi-faceted operations across the globe, the international company has also received an extensive list of environmental and sustainability awards under Lavin’s supervision. Lavin hopes the next generation of young entrepreneurs and corporate leaders will carry the torch and continue to make the planet’s health a priority. When asked about his extensive list of accomplishments, Lavin has stated that he hopes to inspire the next generation of leaders to commit themselves to growing their companies in responsible ways while contributing to the growth of global commerce and creating opportunities for their employees so they can also make a difference in tomorrow’s world.

Although Lavin imparts his words of wisdom to future generations, the tycoon doesn’t plan to retire or slow down anytime soon. In addition to overseeing OSI Group’s operations, Lavin also finds time in his busy schedule to stay involved in countless charitable causes, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Of his many accomplishments and accolades, Lavin is proudest of helping raise three children with his wife and giving back to the community – all while growing an international company to become one of the most influential businesses around the globe.

We briefly sat down with Lavin and asked him a few questions about the incredible life he’s committed to both his business and the community. Here’s what this global icon had to say.

What did you like about financial consulting?

I always envisioned that I would work for a business I owned. My academic background is in accounting and finance, so I pursued that path professional.

How did you start in the meat processing industry?

The Kolschowsky family built the first meat processing facility in West Chicago. I had arranged the financing for it. The company’s original name was Otto & Sons, which was named after Otto Kolschowsky, and we later changed it to OSI Industries. My continued involvement with the company eventually lead me to become its owner.

What was your vision for OSI at the start of your journey?

From the first day on the job, I envisioned and aimed to grow the company to be a world-class food processing enterprise.

What is OSI’s global reach and product range today?

Our company is located in 17 countries with more than 65 facilities. Although our product range is mainly protein products, we also produce some vegetable items, sauces and baked goods.

How did you create such a global force?

OSI is an entrepreneurial company. We don’t run it like a typical company of our size, which dictates from the top. Yes, there are rules we must follow, strategies we must implement, various levels of responsibility and budgetary limits, but we operate like a family. Our culture is very different, and it’s what separates us from the rest. OSI evolved because this has been the best way for us to do business, and it has worked.

Has innovation always been in your DNA?

Innovation has always been in my DNA. However, I must acknowledge that OSI nurtured it a great deal.

Can you tell us a little about the family culture at OSI?

We’re extremely proud of the people who work with us. Without the loyal and talented folks on our team, we would have never achieved success in this industry. My office door is always open, and I listen to everyone who voices their thoughts. At the corporate office, we all eat lunch together and address each other by our first names. I’m called Sheldon or Shelly instead of “Mr. Lavin.” We’re concerned not only for our employees but also their families, because we’re all part of one big family.

How has your involvement with charities helped your outcome?

We’re extremely passionate about giving back to the communities in which we operate. We have an extensive history of encouraging everyone to be charitable within their means.

What is your vision for the future of both you and and OSI?

My vision for OSI is to continue to expand and have profitable growth, serving world-class outcomes to the “Nth” degree in all facets of our operation. We look forward to continuing to be one of the leaders in the global food industry. I might retire someday, and I know OSI will continue to achieve its mission. We have a great group of talent to carry on OSI’s vision for many generations to come.”

Lavin concluded the interview by emphasizing, “The people who work with us and the quality of our products will always come first. That’s why we’re considered number one by the best leaders in the business. Every day is a new day to prove it.”

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