by Gary Kayye, Founder, rAVe Publications
If there is a way to hurriedly award Fred Shen the ULTIMATE AV award for service, InfoComm should do it now – their biggest AV show, ever, will take place in Las Vegas and it wouldn’t be where it is today without Fred Shen, founder of Shen Milsom & Wilke (SM&W), the largest AV, acoustics, IT and security, consulting firm in the world.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we write to share news that our beloved Founder and Chairman, Fred Shen, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, after a massive stroke. Fred was 74,” was the written message on the SM&W website from the entire Board.
This is a HUGE loss for AV. Sure, SM&W had a transition plan (in fact, Tom Shen (Fred’s son) took on the role of President and CEO earlier this year) and they will continue to be THE consulting firm in the AV world, but Fred Shen was more than an industry icon – he was an AV GENIUS.
M&W has 13 offices all over the world. And, they defined AV consulting 30-years ago when Shen started the firm in 1986. Since then, they’ve designed AV in places like the World Trade Center, Carnegie Hall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New York Public Library, Georgia Tech University, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the New York City Office of Emergency Management, Huawei Technologies’ Corporate Data and Command Center and systems in over 30 different countries around the world!
When I was at Extron AND at AMX, we would call the team at Shen, first, to see if a new product idea would take flight. If Shen didn’t like it, it likely wasn’t a good idea.
I met Fred Shen on a number of occasions and worked with him in the early days when I was at Extron in the late 1980’s. He didn’t talk much but when he did, everyone listened.
How many people can in our industry say they’ve been interviewed by the New York Times? Well, Fred Shen was back in 2013. And, he was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the firm’s 30th anniversary celebration at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2016.
The SM&W letter to their clients about Fred’s passing says, “The entire Shen family is incredibly shocked and saddened by this sudden event. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.” Actually, there are about 240,000 AV people who were touched, in one form or another, by Fred Shen who are ALL sad and shocked by his sudden passing.