The passing of Fred Hsiao is tempered
by remembering his many accomplishments
By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer
Fred Hsiao (Feng/Shaw) has been the subject of many articles that have appeared in China Insight over the years so it is with deep regret that we now feature his passing. By the time you read this, the community will have paid its respects to Fred and his family.
Hsiao passed away peacefully at home on Monday, June 21, 2010. He was 91 and had just returned from an extensive visit to China. He is survived by his wife Jennie, sons Howell, Hoyt and Holden along with their wives and three grandchildren
Hsiao began his journey to the United States from China in late 1944 to pursue an advanced degree in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He came to Minnesota in 1947 to attend the University of Minnesota to work on his Ph.D.
In 1949, Fred started in the construction industry as a part-time estimator working for Orville E. Madsen and Sons (OEM). He began working full time in 1951 and eventually became a Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors by 1954. It was during this time that he took the name of Fred Shaw for his business dealings.
When OEM moved to Wisconsin in 1974, Hsiao and Lyle Lundquist decided to start their own firm, creating Shaw-Lundquist, Associates, Inc. (SLA). Today, SLA is one of the largest minority owned businesses in the state of Minnesota and since 1995, one of the Top 25 General Contractors as rated by the Minnesota Business Journal.
Aside from his business success, Fred married his loving wife Jennie in 1958, and they have both been very involved in the local Chinese/minority communities. Hsiao is a founding member of the National Association of Minority Contractors of MN, and served as Vice President and Treasurer. He is a founding member the Twin Cities Chinese Christian Church, Chinese American Association of MN (CAAM) and also a founding member of the Chinese American Business Association of MN (CABAM) serving as President. He was recognized in 2008 as Chinese Minnesotan of Note by the Chinese Heritage Foundation. (Reprinted on Page 4)
Fred, along with wife Jennie, established the first scholarship of its kind with the China Center-University of Minnesota to send university students to study in China. He had also been a supporter of the Chinese Senior Citizens Society and the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association.
Hsiao received many honors including the National NAMC Hall of Fame in 2004; the Metropolitan Economic Development Association's (MEDA) Hall of Fame in 2005; the Associated General Contractors of MN's 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award, the Twin Cities International Citizens' International Immigrant Achievement Award in 2007.
As if this wasn’t enough for one man to accomplish, Hsiao and the family have also been featured in Twin Cities Business, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal Special Report on Power Families as well as being featured in Finance & Commerce.
As anyone that knew him will attest, Hsiao was a gentle, kind, generous, and compassionate person who loved his family and work. Only until his “retirement” last year upon the celebration of the 35th anniversary of his company, Shaw-Lundquist Associates, Inc., he continued to put in a full day at the office.
In lieu of memorials, the family has requested donations to the University of Minnesota Foundation - Jennie and Fred Hsiao Scholarship Fund.
2008 Chinese Minnesotan of Note
By the Advisory Committee of the Chinese Heritage Foundation
Fred Hsiao was born in a small village in Shaanxi Province in China. He graduated from the National Wuhan University in 1944 and came to the United States for graduate training in civil engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Minnesota. Shortly after his arrival in the Twin Cities he became immersed in the life of the local Chinese community, emerging as a quiet leading force. In both his professional and private lives he has followed the same dictum: work hard, be a good listener, remain fair and kind, treat everyone with respect and courtesy, be frugal but at the same time generous, cultivate personal relationships and honor agreements, maintain optimism, be persistent and in good humor because hard work will pay off. These are qualities that he absorbed from lessons he learned from his home village in China and by which he has abided in the last six decades in this country.
It is therefore no wonder that Shaw-Lundquist Associates, which Hsiao founded in 1974 to provide general contracting, construction management, design-build, concrete, masonry, carpentry, and demolition services to the Upper Midwest, has grown into the largest Minority-owned Contractor in the Midwest and the largest Asian-owned Contractor in the U.S. Hsiao is the recipient of numerous professional achievement awards, including the International Immigrant Achievement Award from The Twin Cities International Citizen Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota.
Hsiao, in deep appreciation of the opportunities he has found in this country, began giving back to the community very early in his career. He and his wife, Jennie, are generous and longtime supporters of many causes and organizations, and have been described as an extraordinary power family who has reinvested much of their worth back into the community through charitable donations. Over the years, hardly a celebrated Chinese cultural event would go by without receiving their enthusiastic and generous support. Recently they established the Hsiao Scholarship at the China Center at the University of Minnesota to provide opportunities for University students to study in China. Hsiao was a founding member of the Chinese American Business Association of Minnesota and currently serves as its honorary president. He also serves on the board of many organizations, including the Chinese Senior Citizens Society and the U.S. China Peoples Friendship Association. He was particularly instrumental in introducing the peasant painters of Huxian County (Shaanxi Province) to Minnesotans. Well known for his cheerfulness, he is always ready to lend a sympathetic ear to friends and strangers alike.
Now in his eighties, Hsiao continues to go to work everyday and enjoys attending activities of the many charitable causes that he champions. The Chinese Heritage Foundation honors him for his unassuming leadership in our community, and for being a role model of lifelong dedication to and achievement in cross cultural understanding and cooperation.
The Chinese Minnesotan of Note is a program of the Chinese Heritage Foundation. These essays are published by CHF media partners China Insight and Minnesota China Tribune.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 2008 issue of China Insight.