Every year the Global Vision Academy nominates someone as winner of their Global Visionary Award, particularly for following through on a vision they had to start a business. In 2016 the honorary recipient of this award happened to be Sheldon Lavin, the owner and CEO of Chicago-based OSI Group. Lavin won the award because he had entered into a field that he originally had no intention of entering into, and then took a company from being only a domestic meat processing plant holding company into a worldwide distributor work billions of dollars. Lavin is 81 years old but has said he enjoys the company so much he doesn’t plan on stepping down just yet.
Sheldon Lavin is from a Jewish American family and found his first interest in investing and finance. He managed accounts for several well-known banks before becoming a private consultant for several companies, and it was while doing this that he met the sons of Otto Kolschowsky who currently ran the family company known as Otto & Sons.
Sheldon Lavin initially served as a Part-Time Finance Manager for Otto & Sons guiding them in different investment strategies, but soon the Kolschowsky sons wanted him to become company CEO. Lavin at first declined because he believed sticking strictly to finance was his best option. But in time he reconsidered the offer and soon believed he could do something good to the company.
In the mid 1970s the Kolschowsky sons retired and sold their ownership shares to Lavin who then took over along with current President David McDonald. Lavin soon renamed Otto & Sons to OSI Industries, and soon the company was opening and buying more factories to produce products for McDonalds and other partners they later joined with. Today OSI Group owns processing plants in 17 different countries and is listed as the 10th largest meat processing plant. In addition to the Global Visionary award, Lavin has won awards for his philanthropy which involves many charity organizations such as Inner City of Chicago Foundation, Boys & Girls Club, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Ronald McDonald House Charities.