Category Archives: Food Industry

Sheldon Lavin’s Global Visionary Award Celebrates 40 Years In Food Industry Entrepreneurship And Charity

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OSI Industries Chairman and CEO Sheldon Lavin was given a tremendous honor at a ceremony hosted by Global Vision Academy where he was awarded for over 40 years of business growth and charity work. Lavin has been proud of what OSI Industries has done not only in discovering new flavors and meat products that have been loved by customers of supermakets and fast food restaurant chains, but also for leading a company that’s put people first and given back millions to needy communities. Lavin really didn’t know much about food processing and product creation when he came to the company, but he applied the knowledge he had about sound financial investments to the company and has delivered worldwide quality service as a result.

OSI Industries was known as Otto & Sons when Sheldon Lavin first started working for it. The company had started as a suburban Chicago butcher shop and meat wholesale market store, and not long before Lavin arrived Otto & Sons had made a major deal with McDonald’s restaurants. The deal entailed providing large quantities of meat to the growing restaurant chain, and the Otto & Sons owners realized this would mean national and potentially international expansion. They needed a large loan to be able to build factories supplying the meat, and Lavin had a history in banking and as an independent consultant was able to get the loans needed to build the company’s first big plants.

Otto & Sons was not only delivering high production in meat for McDonald’s, but the return on investments and making more profits than ever prompted their owners to offer him the position as CEO, and when they retired they sold him their shares and promised him he could use his strategic vision to grow the company. Later David McDonald joined Lavin and became company president, and since the late 1970s the company has reached around the world delivering its products into more than 60 countries and is housed on 5 different continents. But despite its huge growth and outstanding profits, Lavin prefers to keep many of the ways it was run as the family-owned meat market in its beginning. He is a very outgoing friendly man in the words of those who know him, and he values the opinions of others very closely. Lavin may be near 90 years old, but he finds new energy every day as he interacts with the people he works with and continues to be passionate about serving organizations like the Jewish United Fund and the Ronald McDonald House.

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Nathaniel Ru’s Philosophy; ensure everything you do lasts longer than you

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The interesting thing about the Sweetgreen’s company and its three founders is that three years ago, only the trio knew of the idea that they had in mind. The three were discussing about how difficult it was to find healthier food alternatives on campus when they realized that this was a business opportunity in disguise.

Six years after they first thought of the problem, Sweetgreen is now a fully established 21 store farm to table restaurant that specializes in organic food alternatives for people that love the concept of clean eating. The first challenge that the trio had when they were trying to establish their business was getting space for the first restaurant. Coincidentally, the landlord to their rental also owned a space they were eyeing. The first time they called her, she simply hung up on them after hearing their plans. They proceeded to call her every day of the month till she agreed to a face to face meeting.

When the landlord met them, she was more supportive than they had imagined. She told them to look for an architect and polish their business plan. This made them start having confidence that they had something great going. In three weeks, they had the architect and backers. Nathaniel says, they remain grateful to the woman who decided to believe in college seniors with no previous experience in the restaurant business. Today, the trendy organic food restaurant has spread to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

The thing that made the concept sell was that the company was selling more than just salad. They likened their business to Apple, which looks from the inside out. The deeper purpose has been solidified with the introduction of Sweetlife. Their aim in marketing is to be smart, sexy, social and local. The sweetlife ventures is the part of the company that organizes a music festival annually as part of marketing for their brand.

Nathaniel Ru believes that the concept they have created will last long after they are gone. This is what makes their company more unique than everyone else in the market selling greens. Winning while keeping it real are two of the five values that the company bases their marketing on. From the look of things, the sky will be the limit for this young business.


Nathaniel Ru: Sweetgreen Success

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As a Georgetown undergraduate, Nathaniel Ru and three other close friends, wanted a little more out of life. Being fed up with the choices of college foods, they developed a plan and founded one of the greatest salad chains on the market today. Eight years later, after their graduation, Nathaniel Ru and his colleagues, started one of the hippest and up-beat salad chains. Their salad chain was created to bring a fresh alternative to other salad markets, by providing a farm-to-salad atmosphere. Nathaniel Ru’s salad chain is called Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen started in 2007 and was funded by the help of 40 friends and relatives.


Today, Sweetgreen is in 31 nationwide areas, and hoping to reach to 40 by the end of the year. Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru, are all founders of Sweetgreen and they all three come from families of entrepreneurs. While coming from business families, they all had a vision of building a business on their own, but also wanting healthier food choices in Georgetown.


The vision of Sweetgreen came from the three friends being disciplined. Nathaniel Ru and his colleagues knew that they did not want to just produce a regular type of salad, but wanted something more for healthier options. Nathaniel Ru, along with the other founders, has stated, “We knew that we weren’t selling just a salad leaf, We’re selling a set of values that are about doing everything right, sustainable, and I mean that in the business, in the food that we serve, in the way we hire and treat people in our stores, in our community, on the farms we work with, in the way we build our stores.”


Sweetgreen has completed three rounds of venture capital funding, totaling $95 million. It has gained so many great reviews, along with community and local support. People are finding, that it is not just a salad or a piece of lettuce, there is taste and values behind each bite, and because of the farm-fresh taste, the salad is considered more as a meal at Sweetgreen. Nathaniel Ru, as a college student, definitely had dreams and aspirations of a business chain. As graduation got closer, he knew that deep down, he didn’t want that life.