June 8, 2016
by Shen Milsom and Wilke
Fred Shen at the Shen Milsom & Wilke’s 30th anniversary celebration on 05.11.16.Credit: Geoff Green
Fred Shen at the Shen Milsom & Wilke’s 30th anniversary celebration on 05.11.16.Credit: Geoff Green

On Tuesday, 05.31.16, many were saddened by the sudden passing of Fred Shen, 74, founder and chairman of Shen Milsom & Wilke (SM&W). Described as a visionary and a pioneer in the industry, there is no denying that Fred created a legacy. He was a friend and mentor to all those who had the privilege to work with him.

Born in Shanghai, Fred moved to the U.S. to attend the University of Michigan, where he received a BS in Engineering. He spent the last 30 years as the visionary behind SM&W’s success. When he founded the firm in 1986, he recognized that there were two forces converging: the global economy, and the need for innovative and coordinated specialty services in building designs. Fred created a global footprint and, with it, the first multidisciplinary consulting firm to meet all of the needs of its clients.

Fred was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the firm’s 30th anniversary celebration at Carnegie Hall on 05.11.16. SM&W continues to move ahead under the leadership of Tom Shen, who took on the role of president and CEO earlier this year.


Fred was totally driven by business. He was an astute businessman who understood what many engineers did not – the business of the business. His clients were always foremost in his mind, working tirelessly on highly detailed proposals, delivering the best, creative, and most cost-effective solutions, and incorporating that notion into every person who set foot within our office walls.

I’ve learned many lessons over the 27 years working with Fred. Probably the most important lesson was in two parts: the first is to put yourself in your client’s shoes, take their seat at the table, see things as they see them, and truly represent their values. The second, and maybe the most important, is to carefully listen to the client, looking to understand the true meaning of what they are saying, and extrapolating that into a concept that will represent their long-term goals.

– Steve Emspak, Partner, Shen Milsom & Wilke


Fred was a person with a focus and a dream. Many people are not focused enough to obtain their dreams. That was not Fred. He knew where he wanted to go, and he sought the right people and methods to get there. His passion for the business, clients, staff, and community was never lost in the shuffle, but rather was the guiding principle that helped Fred grab the brass ring and build a business that has been one of the most advanced, innovative, highly renowned, and observed organizations in the industry. Fred was a true visionary.

– Randy Tritz, Partner, Shen Milsom & Wilke



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