Foremost Celebrates 50 Years Since Founding the Company

Dr James Chao
Foremost Celebrates 50 Years
January 19, 2015
Chao family
Going strong after half a century in business: Foremost group’s celebrations
March 22, 2015

Foremost Celebrates 50 Years Since Founding the Company

Oshima, Foremost Group, and Sumitomo Group signing of the Shipbuilding contract

Chao familyGathering at the Harvard Club on the evening of the 19th of December, was Foremost Group, founded by American of Chinese decent Shipping entrepreneur Dr. James S.C. Chao, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company’s founding. Hundreds of industry guests from China and the US as well as Japan and Europe gathered to celebrate Foremost Group, reminiscing over a half century of glorious history. Company founder Dr. James S.C. Chao, had the company of all of his daughters and son in-laws and other family members in attendance at the ceremony. This included his eldest daughter, The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, and her husband, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, each of the Chao daughters May, Christine, and Grace, as well as his youngest daughter, Angela Chao, who serves as the Deputy Chair of Foremost Group.

During the dinner, Dr. James Chao took time to share his entrepreneurial experience, not only to thank all his many circles of friends for all of their support over the years enabling the company to grow through a half a century of ups and downs, but also to reflect upon his own personal experiences in the hopes of encouraging people to persevere and never give up. “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, B, C, D all the way down to Z, I could not find Foremost.  I want to thank my father who gave me so much encouragement – He taught me that when you fail, when you are discouraged, do not give up, and continue to work hard towards your goal. ”


Dr. James Cheng Chao and His Youngest Daughter,Angela ChaoSenator McConnell also spoke during dinner on behalf of all of Dr. Chao’s Son-in-laws. He admitted that he, himself, is proud to be a member of the Chao family for over twenty years now. He spoke about how Dr. James Chao came to America over a half a century ago; given the circumstances of the language barrier and having to start over from scratch, it is hard to even imagine the difficulty of his situation.  Nevertheless, he started over from nothing, and had the courage to take risks, and to pursue his own version of the American Dream, and it is one of the most touching stories he knows. Today, this occasion celebrates the achievements of Dr. Chao, and the beginning of a 50-year old company, with a successful 50 more years ahead.

Following the evening dinner, Angela Chao invited the eldest daughter, Elaine Chao, to take the stage to speak on behalf of all of the sisters who were all present. She talked about remembering leaving Asia and the extremely rare circumstances under which her father came to the United States. He came to the United States unaccompanied, and was one of the first of Chinese descent to have the courage to pursue a degree in management.  Through all the difficult early years, Mr. Chao was unwavering in her support of him and her confidence in his future. Chao said that her father and mother Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, have always upheld strong values, the concept of integrity, creating not only a successful base for Foremost Group, but also instilling these values and ideas in her and all of her sisters, lasting a lifetime.

Dr. James Si Cheng Chao founded Foremost Group in New York in 1964. The company enjoys a high reputation in the international shipping industry for its professionalism and high standards of business ethics. Founder, Dr. James Chao, was born in Shanghai, China, after graduating from the National Maritime University. He studied navigation with unprecedented speed, sailed through the qualification levels and became the youngest captain on ocean-going vessels. He was 30 years old at that time and broke all records in the special examination for master mariners administered by the government, which led to his selection to go to the United States to study. In 1964, Dr. James Si Cheng Chao founded Foremost Group and has served as Chair since. Over the years, his professional achievements in shipping and generous charitable contributions around the world has made him the recipient of many awards, including but not limited to, the Horatio Alger “Distinguished American Award”, the US Department of Homeland Security’s “Outstanding American” Award, and was inducted into the “International Maritime Hall of Fame” at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.