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 China Insight and Minnesota China Tribune, our media partners.