The Cold War had Americans worried about a Soviet Union invasion for many years before its collapse in 1991. What Americans feared, happened to Energy Management Technician Ladang Hak when he was growing up in Cambodia.
His country suffered throughout the 1970’s due to Civil War, takeover by the communist Khmer Rouge party and Vietnamese invasion. Hak was removed from school at age nine and forced to work in Khmer Rouge controlled rice fields.
“Those were supposed to be fun times for me growing up,” commented Hak. “We were forced to work for the communists, kind of like slavery orforced child labor. We weren’t paid any money.”
Hak’s two sisters, brother and two cousins managed to escape to America. He thought they had died, and they thought he had died. His brothereventually found Ladang, two more of his brothers and his mother, and arranged to sponsor their immigration to the U.S. in January 1981.
Even after missing four years of school in Cambodia, Hak still graduated on time from Minnetonka High School in 1983. He got a degree in ElectroMechanical Technology from Hennepin Technical Center, but decided not to pursue further education in order to support his family.
As home computers became mainstream, Hak educated himself by buying the components and building computers for friends and family. Heeventually landed a job as a machine operator building microchips. This led to a 12-year position at Honeywell in Building/Home Controls (Fire Alarms,Security Cards, Automation, etc.).
Hak met and married his wife Dary in 1994. By 1998, they had plans to start a family, so Hak pursued a job that didn’t involve travel – and landed at the U.
He started out in the Building Systems Automation Center (BSAC), but his duties have shifted to the Energy Management group in recent years. Asan energy tech, he supports the FM districts with Building Automation issues like hot and cold calls or broken equipment. One of the districtpersonnel he supports is his own brother Ladinn, who came with him from Cambodia in 1981.
Hak and his wife currently live in Chanhassen with their two daughters – Alexis (11) and Jasmine (12). The family enjoys camping in state parks andoutdoor activities like fishing, hiking, biking and snow skiing. His daughters are now about the same age as he was when he was forced to work for theKhmer Rouge. He can provide them with something that he was denied at that age – fun!