More than 40 years ago Sheldon Lavin was a banker. He was keen on a certain, aggressive meat-processing company known as Otto & Sons. This Chicago-area operation was partnered with none other than McDonald’s. The iconic fast food restaurant was poised to become one of the largest corporations in America. Otto & sons were along for the ride as its primary supplier of fresh beef.
Sheldon Lavin liked what he saw as an investment expert. He was eager to provide the financing Otto & Sons needed for an ambitious growth strategy. They even asked Mr. Lavin to come on board with an ownership stake in the early 1970s. He initially declined, but finally relented in 1975 when he became an official managing partner.
The year 1975 was the same year that Otto & Sons became OSI Industries — a company that has since become one of the largest food processing enterprises in the world. It was Sheldon Lavin who masterminded an investment strategy that would fuel OSI’s overseas expansion plan. Lavin became chairman and CEO of OSI a few years later. He still holds that position today.
OSI Industries is presently listed by Forbes to be #58 on its tally of largest privately-owned American companies. OSI reports annual revenues north of $6 billion. It now has 65 facilities operating in 17 countries around the world.
Especially during the past decade, Sheldon Lavin has made sustainability an extreme focus as he shepherds OSI into an ever-expanding future of growth. He realizes that — in a world that needs to feed more than 7 billion hungry people — finding ways to preserves the food-production environment through wise use of resources is critical.
The process is raising animals for meat production grows more challenging every year. The amount of agricultural land is being stressed by increased demand from urban expansion, a changing climate and other factors. A huge part of the equation is the world’s fresh water supply and availability. It needs to be used wisely and kept clean. World governments are also pressuring companies to lower their carbon footprint and use not only less energy, but more green energy.
Sheldon Lavin may be one of the oldest and longest lasting CEOs in America, but he is leading the way in showing how an energy-intensive company like OSI can actually be among the most environmentally efficient operations on the planet.