Arlington, VA—Raymond Adam Gates, the former president of Panasonic Company, passed away on January 16 at the age of 103. Gates was the company’s first U.S. employee.
Gates was a partner in his own parts manufacturing company and distributed housewares before joining Panasonic in 1959 as sales manager. At that time, the company did not go by the Panasonic name. Moreover, the corporation—with one office and a product line of four radios—went under the name of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, which it kept until 2008.
President of Panasonic
Further, at age 62, Gates was appointed the president of Panasonic Company in 1982. His appointment was part of a restructuring to increase the company’s exposure in the U.S. As such, Gates began his tenure traveling extensively. In addition to visiting customers and attending trade shows, he made several trips to the Tokyo headquarters of the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company.
At that time, Panasonic, the American sales company for primarily Japanese-made products, was budgeting a 15% increase over 1981, when volume amounted to $1.1 billion. The drive to increase sales helped explain why Panasonic named an American as its president for the first time.
“In the consumer part of the business, the dealers and distributors want to communicate on sales matters,” Gates had commented. “And this requires an American. We’re really trying to take the best of both American and Japanese management.”
Additionally, Gates was active in industry associations. This included the Consumer Electronics Group, known today as the Consumer Technology Association.
“He was a true servant leader who led with compassion and kindness. As chairman of CTAs (formerly EIA’s Consumer Electronics Group) board in 1982, he set the tone for four decades of running CES. He strongly believed anyone with an idea should have low-cost access to the world’s most influential tech event,” commented Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA). “This passion inspired Eureka Park and has allowed tens of thousands of investors, retailers, media and partners to connect with start-ups at CES.
“He also taught me you don’t have to understand the intricate engineering details of every product to be a good leader within the tech industry. We are forever grateful for Ray leaving his mark on CTA, CES and the entire tech industry.”