More than 40 years ago, Sheldon Lavin was a banker and business investment strategist who really liked what he saw in a relatively small operation known as Otto & Sons. The year was 1974 and the meat-processing operation had already existed since 1909 when it began as a humble, one-man butcher shop.
German immigrant Otto Kolschowski set up his shop in a Chicago suburb two years after arriving in America. His dedication to the simple concepts of providing high quality cuts of meat to satisfied customers meant that his small business grew steadily year after year.
By 1928, Otto’s sons joined their father in his business and Ott & Sons was born. The company continued to serve its local Chicago neighborhood base moving into wholesale along with supplying meat directly to retailers and customers.
In the 1950s, a big change was about to happen that perhaps even Otto & Sons could not have anticipated. The Kolschowski brothers made a handshake deal with a man by the name of Ray Kroc. He was launching a certain little restaurant called McDonald’s — a new concept eatery called fast food that served up cheap, but delicious hamburgers and crispy french fries.
Fast forward to 1975 and the McDonald’s “experiment” was rapidly blossoming into one of America’s most robust and fastest growing business models. As its primary supplier of fresh beef, Otto & Sons was along for the ride. That was the year that Otto & Sons became OSI Group — destined to become one of the largest suppliers of processed meat and protein products in the world.
Today OSI Group is operating in 17 countries with 65 facilities. From 1975 onward, it has been Sheldon Lavin who has masterminded the phenomenal growth of the company he agreed to join as an investment partner and strategist after initially serving it as a banking representative.
More than four decades of world-class growth and stewardship of OSI Group makes Mr. Lavin one of the longest lasting CEOs in America today. His strategy to grow OSI Group through mergers, acquisitions and in-house expansion serves as a model for taking a small company and transforming it into an international force.
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