For minority contractor, quality is key

The nation’s largest Asian-American-owned general contracting firm carved out a legacy in bricks and mortar across the Midwest. And it is continuing its tradition in the Las Vegas Valley.

Shaw-Lundquist Associates Inc., headed up by the next generation of the family-owned business, is following in its founder’s footsteps, building a path across the desert floor, led by high-profile projects along the Strip.

Holden Hsiao, who works from the Las Vegas office, is vice president of the company. He is the son of Feng Hsiao, one of the original co-founders.

“I just wanted to continue that legacy that my father set,” said Hsiao, whose name falls phonetically close to the company name Shaw.

The development of the Shaw name began with Feng Hsiao’s landing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a full scholarship in the 1940s. He also would receive his master’s degree in civil engineering before pursuing his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in hydraulic engineering.

Locals said the name Shaw sounded similar to his Chinese version. So he went by Shaw, but never changed his family name, said Hoyt Hsiao. He is Shaw’s other son and has been CEO and president of Shaw-Lundquist, operating from the organization’s home office in the Twin Cities since 2007.

Shaw started building the family fortune at Orville Madsen, where he worked at estimating projects while he was still a student. In 1954, Shaw was named vice president of the organization. That firm moved to Wisconsin 20 years later. That’s when Shaw took a different turn, deciding to open his own venture.

Shaw would start a partnership with Lyle Lundquist in 1974. Lundquist started work as a carpenter at OEM and later became superintendent in 1951. Holden said the company was able to get projects moving right away. Lundquist retired from the organization in 1984.

Since then, the organization has built massive structure such as a more than $50 million laboratory facility for Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture and Health and various projects at the Minneapolis airport including a skyway. The firm also has a hand in several sectors in Minneapolis, including education, municipality work and multifamily. It has built several big-box projects for Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Best Buy.

Shaw also has left a different type of footprint in the Midwest region — the brand is one of the largest minority contractors in the Midwest. Shaw also co-founded the Chinese-American Business Association of Minnesota and the National Association of Minority Contractors’ Upper Midwest chapter. Shaw is also in the National Association of Minority Contractors’ Hall of Fame and the halls of fame of multiple minority organizations in Minnesota.

Shaw, both outside and inside the Shaw-Lundquist organization, helped minority contractors thrive and pursue their goals of moving up in the market. Shaw died in 2010. But the same traditions continue on through today.

Shaw-Lundquist still holds its ties to the Minority Contractors’ Association in Minneapolis, along with participating in the local chapter in Las Vegas.

Holden Hsiao said Shaw-Lundquist is also willing to help other minority contractors in Las Vegas and at home.

“We just have to make sure they perform, and we’ll try to help them out,” he said.

Chris Rowe, managing director at Shaw-Lundquist, added, “We’ll find the right company that was meant for them and help them, and allow the same opportunities that this organization was afforded as well.”

Shaw-Lundquist found its way to the Las Vegas Valley through the National Minority Contractors’ Association, learning about opportunities in the city in 2005.

One of the organization’s first jobs came from MGM Resorts International on the City Center project. The relationship between the companies continues today. Holden Hsiao said the team got in the door by being a minority contractor, but continues to keep that door open through performance.

“Being in diversity is what got us here, but in the end, it’s how we do our business and how we service the clients and making sure that they get the project they want done,” he said. “That’s what we believe in.”

The company entered on Las Vegas’ high tide, though it struggled during the recession. It got through that era doing small projects for MGM Resorts. Holden Hsiao said the organization is thankful to MGM Resorts for sticking with the firm and providing opportunities.

Representatives at MGM Resorts are happy with the performance by Shaw-Lundquist on its park project, set to be unveiled April 4, going up along the Strip next to the new T-Mobile Arena.

“Shaw-Lundquist’s can-do attitude and day-to-day grind down the home stretch of the project has inspired the various trade contractors on the project to follow their lead,” said Russ Davis, vice president of construction at MGM Resorts.

“Shaw-Lundquist’s leadership and perseverance has kept this project on schedule. It was through SLA’s project management team that various critical iconic elements of the Park were coordinated, fabricated, delivered and installed in an effective and efficient manner,” he added.

In recent times, the Shaw-Lundquist team has added Caesars Entertainment to its lists of clients with its work on an Augustus Tower remodel and other projects on the Linq High Roller and meeting rooms at Bally’s.

Now that the economy is on the move again, Shaw-Lundquist plans to continue on its path to gain more work on the Strip and move into other sectors, as it did in the Midwest. Also in the future, the team has licenses to operate in California, but there are no immediate plans to move on those ventures.

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