Sheldon Lavin Continues Global Expansion of OSI Group With Commitment To Green Innovations

Sheldon Lavin Continues Global Expansion

UPDATED September 25th, 2017 - From humble beginnings to running one of the world's biggest food processing companies, Sheldon Lavin was recently interviewed about his leadership skills and how he became the CEO of OSI Group. Head over to to read his latest interview and learn more about the future of OSI Group.

OSI Group has an impressive history that spans over 100 years. The company was founded in 1909 by Otto Kolschowsky. At the time, it was a humble butcher shop and meat market in Chicago called Otto & Sons, USA. Today, it is a large company with more than 65 locations and partners all over the world, and Sheldon Lavin is the CEO. With his focus on food safety, green practices and sustainability, Sheldon Lavin plans to continue growing the company using strategic market-focused methods. In recent years, most of OSI's exponential growth included several acquisitions.

OSI Group's Early Growth

Growth started for Otto & Sons in 1955 when the company was chosen as the first hamburger supplier to McDonald's. The company opened a special plant dedicated to serving McDonald's in 1973. In the 1970s, Sheldon Lavin came aboard and soon became a partner to the two brothers who were the sons of Otto Kolschowsky. Mr. Lavin helped steer them into a global market as McDonald's continued its rapid growth. In 1975, Otto & Sons became OSI Group. As the 1980s passed, OSI Group expanded into Germany, Spain, Brazil, Taiwan and Austria. It opened two additional plants in the United States. The company expanded into the Philippines, Mexico, China and Poland in the 1990s and continued beefing up its production in the United States.

When the new millennium arrived, OSI Group started aggressive expansion of its poultry operations on several continents. Acquisitions started in the 2000s, when OSI broke into the fresh produce market through an acquisition in China in 2002. Another acquisition in Australia brought the company into that country's beef industry. To meet growth demands, OSI Group acquired an interest in an American poultry company in the USA in 2006. In 2010, OSI Group expanded to Japan to open a beef production company. After 2010, OSI group expanded into India and Canada while opening several other plants in the United States prior to 2015.

2014 Joint Ventures In United Kingdom, Canada And Germany

OSI Group entered a joint venture with Pickstock in the United Kingdom. The venture was beneficial to OSI Group since it allowed the company to expand its beef distribution throughout Europe, and it gave Pickstock an opportunity to expand its growth. Select Ready Foods in Edmonton, Alberta produces chicken, beef and pork products for food service companies. The joint venture with Select Ready Foods gave it a huge growth opportunity while allowing OSI Group to expand into value-added meat products in Canada. In Germany, OSI Group entered a joint venture with EDEKA, which is a popular supermarket chain. This gave EDEKA access to affordable high-quality meat products backed by plentiful production.

2016 Tyson Acquisition In Illinois

According to the Chicago Tribune, OSI Group acquired an existing Tyson production plant in Chicago for $7.4 million. The acquisition was convenient for OSI Group since the plant was near another one of its main facilities. With a total amount of 200,000 square feet, the Tyson plant came with an abundant amount of storage space and allowed for added growth.

2016 Dutch Baho Food Controlling Stake Acquisition

Baho Food produces and distributes a wide array of foods and convenience meat products in the Netherlands and Germany. As a successful private company, it was an attractive option for OSI Group. Since OSI Group already had a considerable presence in meat production throughout Europe, the acquisition of Baho Food's controlling stake gave it a broader continental reach to include deli meats and quick snacks. With its dedication to green practices, OSI plans to make operations as efficient as possible for the processed meats.

2016 UK Flagship Europe Acquisition

From frozen poultry and sauces to Oliver James pies and sous vide items, Flagship Europe is responsible for distributing a massive amount of products throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. The company was looking for more resources to expand its product base, and OSI Group presented the perfect opportunity. OSI Group was able to expand beyond frozen and convenience meats to food supplies, marinades and other products in the European market. OSI has plans for additional food safety initiatives and green improvements at the facilities.

2016 German Hynek Schlachthof GmbH Acquisition

Hynek Schlachthof GmbH is based in Tauberbischofsheim, Germany. The slaughterhouse's close proximity to Frankfurt provides a strategic location and the access to more raw meat gives OSI Group's Foodworks division in Europe the chance to broaden its distribution of fresh meat and meat products throughout Germany and Europe. With other acquisitions and increased demand for meats, the German slaughterhouse acquisition happened at the right time. Also, the slaughterhouse works with local livestock producers in the region. Local sources are advantageous for OSI with its commitment to sustainable supply chains and green practices.

About OSI Group CEO Sheldon Lavin

When Sheldon Lavin entered OSI Group more than four decades ago, he brought a drive to succeed along with his experience as an investor and banking executive. He was the one who originally pushed OSI Group into its global growth and success in the 1970s. After becoming a third partner with equal leverage in the 1970s, Mr. Lavin later became a half partner when one of the original brothers sold his interest. He gained 100 percent voting control when the second brother retired. At that time, Mr. Lavin felt that there was no need for him to stay unless he continued strategically expanding.

Mr. Lavin's purchases, joint ventures and acquisitions have all been planned strategically. As a person who feels strongly that purpose is important, Mr. Lavin also placed a great deal of importance on green innovations. Today, his company has a workforce of over 20,000 employees around the world. He is happy that the company's culture is uniform and cohesive despite the oceans, languages and industry focuses that separate the facilities. At 85 years of age, Mr. Lavin has no plans of stopping now and is committed to reducing environmental impact, promoting a sustainable supply chain and making socially responsible contributions to workers and communities throughout the world. Mr. Lavin also generously donates to charities for sick children, college funds, Jewish organizations and chronic illnesses.

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