Sheldon Lavin started out his professional career as a bank executive and investment manager. He was asked to provide his assistance to Aurora, Illinois-based Otto & Sons who needed to borrow funds in order to aggressively expand their operations.
Lavin was able to arrange this financing for them. He was so successful that the owners of this company asked that he take a leadership and ownership stake in it but he declined. He did agree to become a consultant to them, however.
In 1975 this company decided to expand overseas. At this point, Sheldon Lavin did agree to become a partner. In this same year, they also changed the name of the company to OSI Group. Their primary customer was McDonald’s who had them as one of their four suppliers of beef patties. As McDonald’s expanded throughout the world so did OSI Group.
In 1977, McDonald’s asked Sheldon Lavin to fully commit to OSI Group. McDonald’s said that they needed his business expertise at one of their most important suppliers. Before long he was this company’s chief executive officer and chairman. He has served in these roles ever since. He is now well into his 80s but says he enjoys running this company so much he still wants to be involved in its operations.
He has said that when he joined OSI Group he was prepared to move back into the financial industry if he wasn’t able to grow it into, in his words, “something big”. He can now consider that mission accomplished although he is still aggressively expanding this company. His company employees more than 20,000 people and has 65 food processing facilities. According to Forbes, it is the 56th largest private company in the nation. As of 2016, this company was worth $6.1 billion.
Sheldon Lavin is always looking to address the needs of the market. A recent trend is a growing demand for chicken around the world. He met this need in Spain as he had this facility recently upgraded with a dedicated high-production line to process chicken. He doubled this production to an annual 24,000 tons.