OSI Group is without a doubt one of the most competitive companies within the food service industry, but there is also no doubt that their history founded on innovation is growing by leaps and bounds. Today, with more than 19,000 employees, the company is making sound decisions, completing mergers, and making more acquisitions. While it all sounds complicated, the driving force behind Sheldon Lavin is “growth”.
When the OSI Group started, it was started by immigrants from Germany, namely, Otto Kolschowsky. As a growing part of the German-immigrant community at the time in Chicago Illinois, he was focused on growing the best food supply company possible. Although Chicago has always been considered to be a thriving city, it was quickly becoming a place where immigrants were also hopeful to find land that they could farm and become self-sustaining. The city, known as the “Hog Butcher of the World”, deemed to be so by Carl Sandburg, the OSI Group had to find a way to either work together with farmers to get the food supply out to the families, or to compete with them.
Kolschowsky opened a retail meat market to serve the community, and by doing so over time he was able to build relationships with the community. His questions about what people need and how to enhance the food supply were all answered through his work with the OSI Group. As he aged, his sons took the reins of the business. Once Kolschowsky’s sons were ready to retire, they called upon the expertise of Sheldon Lavin. Once their consultant for business, he was able to see what the future might be like and how they would need to grow and expand to stay at the peak of their marketplace.
One of the first things Sheldon Lavin launched into action upon his appointment as the Chairman and CEO of the company, was to join with McDonald’s for a wild venture in food service. Although they were not the same company, they were supplying much of what McDonald’s was using. This was when they could see the opportunity for marketshare.
Since the mid-90’s, the OSI Group has grown globally and continues to open up more opportunities within local markets as well. In 2017, they launched into the European market even stronger, taking over Creative Foods Europe.