In 1964, Dr. James S.C. Chao commenced his international shipping business—Foremost Group. Half a century on, on December 19, 2014, at the Harvard Club in New York City, Dr. Chao was joined by his family and an international guest list of the world’s most influential corporate and government officials to celebrate 50 years of contributions by Foremost Group to the global shipping industry. Among the guests were Dr. Chao’s daughters, including his eldest daughter Elaine Chao and her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell, US Senate Majority Leader, and Angela Chao, his youngest daughter and Deputy Chairman of Foremost Group. For Dr. Chao, an immigrant from China, it was an emotional and much enjoyed evening to share stories, accomplishments and visions for the future.
Dr. James S.C. Chao was born in Shanghai, China and is a graduate of its National Maritime University. He secured several distinctions and honors early in his career, including becoming the youngest captain of an oceangoing vessel. At the age of 30, he out-performed all previous examination takers, breaking a number of records previously set for scores on the various special examinations administered by the Chinese government. Dr. Chao left his native country to continue his studies and launch his career in the shipping business, which he achieved by founding Foremost Group. Over the decades since its founding, Dr. Chao has amassed a number of awards including the “Distinguished American” award and “Outstanding American” award bestowed by the US Department of Homeland Security. He was also inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame at the UN Headquarters.
Dr. Chao took time during the dinner to thank his large circle of friends, supporters and professional colleagues, acknowledging the contributions they made to the success of the Foremost Group over its 50 years of growth through smooth and turbulent times. “50 years ago when I founded Foremost Group, I had many nights of little rest, was penniless, and had just come to the United States with no connections. At that time, New York had a lot of shipping companies, so many that the telephone company had a special phone book just for shipping companies, but when I searched that whole book, from A-Z, I could not find Foremost.”
Elaine Chao shared with the guests some of the background of her father’s journey from China to America, relaying how he arrived in the United States alone and was the one of the first persons of Chinese descent to pursue a degree in management—demonstrating the degree of courage and confidence he possessed. She went on to say that both her father and mother, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, raised their children with strong ethical and moral values which not only served to strengthen the Chao family but also the foundation of Foremost Group.
Bridging the past to the future, the 50th year anniversary also provided a forum for the signing of a new order contract between Foremost and Oshima Shipbuilding, one of Japan’s largest shipbuilders, followed by the signing of a charter party for a new Oshima Vessel with Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan’s largest shipping company.