Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Japan’s biggest consumer electronics company, today named an American to head its U.S. operations for the first time and said it hoped the move will make it more welcome in the United States.
The nod went to Richard A. Kraft, a 15-year veteran of the company who will succeed Akiya Imura as president and chief operating officer of Matsushita Electric Corp. of America.
Matsushita has more than 7,000 employees in the United States, scattered from Hawaii to California, Illinois, Washington, Tennessee and New Jersey. It sells televisions, videocassette recorders and microwave ovens and other products under the Panasonic, Quasar and Technics brand names, as well as business and industrial equipment.
Kraft said being American would make him more effective than his predecessors in dealing with American employees, government bodies and communities where Matsushita has operations.
“The American public today seems to be ambivalent about foreign companies in the United States,” Kraft said. By building Matsushita’s reputation as a good corporate citizen, he said, “We can ultimately overcome any possible friction and be welcome in this country.”