Chris Holden

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Sheldon Lavin is Among Chicago’s Greatest Business Success Stories

by Chris Holden - July 20th, 2019.
Filed under: Business Expert, Business Leader. Tagged as: .

Sheldon Lavin has enjoyed one of the most remarkable runs as the leader of a world class company in American history. Now in his 80s, Mr. Lavin has been chairman and CEO of OSI Group since the 1970s. That makes him one of the longest-serving top execs of a major American company of all time. Sheldon Lavin was born in 1932. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He also attended Northwestern and the University of Illinois. After college, he established his consulting business, Lavin & Associates, which operated in downtown Chicago. Lavin’s firm was a fast success, serving an array of clients for more than 15 years.

In the 1970s, he was approached by a well-established meat processing company known as Ott & Sons. This venerable firm had been a fixture in the Chicago area since it was founded in 1909 by German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky. It became Otto & Sons in 1928. In 1955, Otto & Sons made a landmark deal with a little restaurant that was just starting up in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was the first franchise model of McDonald’s. The McDonald’s deal would prove to be the high-octane fuel Otto & Sons needed to take it to the next level. By the 1970s, the Chicago meat processor had become a national powerhouse and was rebranded as OSI Group.

According to Sheldon began consulting with OSI in 1970. The work he did for the company proved so valuable, its owners urged him to come on board as a vested owner. He did so, and the rest is history. With Sheldon Lavin at the helm of OSI Group, the company has expanded to become one of the world’s largest. It operates 70 facilities in 17 nations and employs 20,000 people. Forbes recently listed OSI at No. 58 in its survey of largest privately held American companies. Its annual revenue is reported at more than $6 billion. Sheldon Lavin is known for his considerable work with charity groups, especially Ronald McDonald House. He serves as chairman of that major charity’s capital campaign.

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