How a McDonald’s supplier makes money by keeping other people’s secrets

88-year-old Sheldon Lavin was recently included in the list of America’s richest people. Not everyone knows his name, but his company OSI Group’s products are the McDonald’s hamburger patties that many people eat. Now the company is run by his son, Stephen, and it is precisely because OSI Group has learned to keep other people’s recipes secret that it continues to successfully cooperate with the famous fast food chain.

OSI Group, a privately held food company with nearly $8 billion in 2022 sales, once started out baking hamburger buns under an arrangement with Ray Kroc in 1955. Over the years, Sheldon Lavigne expanded the business, entering into more and more deals with McDonald’s.How a McDonald's supplier makes money by keeping other people's secrets

Now OSI’s 65 plants in 18 countries produce everything from frozen pizzas and steaks to meat and vegetarian fillings for tacos and burritos. And although giants such as Nestlé, Chipotle and Impossible Foods have become OSI’s clients, McDonald’s remains its main buyer. At one time, it was this cooperation that turned Lavin into a billionaire.

After Sheldon Lavigne passed away at age 90, his son Stephen took his place. Stephen Lavigne is a lawyer by training, but he has seen first-hand how his father took a small family firm from a small family firm to become one of the leaders in the global food industry. Today, the Lavina family is worth more than $3.9 billion, according to Forbes.