Global Vision Academy is always celebrating the accomplishments of business leaders who have started a vision for company growth and made a difference in the local and global community in philanthropy. Sheldon Lavin has done all of that and more, and what’s fascinating is how he’s continued being involved in every facet of his company, OSI Industries even as he’s passed 80 years of age. His story of building OSI Industries was honored with the academy’s Global Visionary award in 2016. He is also a previous recipient of the Edward Jones Community Service award from the North American Meat Institute.
Sheldon Lavin was in investment banking at the beginning of his career, and by the time he met the original owners of Otto & Sons he was running his own consulting business. OSI Industries was called Otto & Sons back then, and it was originally a butcher business that was now running as a meat packing warehouse. Lavin was asked to help Otto & Sons get a bank loan because they needed a large meat production plant to serve their new client, McDonald’s restaurants. Otto Sons began to ask more out of him, and even one bank he worked with asked him if he would consider becoming an owner in the company, an offer he turned down at first. But Lavin did stay on as a part-time board member of the company.
Around 1975, Otto & Sons changed their name to OSI Industries and Sheldon Lavin started advising them on how the company could be grown outside the US. He led the opening of new factories and offices in Brazil, Spain, the UK, China, the Netherlands and the Philippines. He began changing his mind about his ownership in the company, and even McDonald’s asked that he have a lead role in it. He took title of CEO in the early 1980s and by the 1990s he had most of the ownership shares.
Sheldon Lavin has kept the company running like a family-owned business because he wants the people who work there and it’s customers to be taken care of first. He also has made sure all the products OSI puts out mesh well with what customers in each international market want. But he also gives to the work of charities like the Jewish United Fund, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Inner City Foundation, and the Ronald McDonald House group. Lavin may be old, but he still wakes up every day with happiness to do his job.
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