AAPI Heritage Month: California businessman and philanthropist George Sugimoto holds close to his heart those who made him successful

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) – From struggling in a detention center to serving in the US military to building a successful business, George Sugimoto has many stories to share with the world.

On a perfect sunny day, the 95-year-old Californian might find his rest on the golf course.

It’s one of his favorite pastimes.

He turns 96 in June and still plays a few times a week.

After Sugimoto’s family was imprisoned during the forced evacuation of Japanese-Americans during World War II, he served in the army during the Korean occupation.

He later studied electrical engineering and founded KGS Electronics in 1959 with a philosophy in mind.

“Think about longevity, do things that are going to be around for a while,” he told ABC7’s Rob Fukuzaki.

Sixty-three years later, KGS Electronics, which supplies advanced certified power conversion products to commercial and military aerospace customers around the world, is still thriving and it all started in the family home in Pasadena.

“Actually, it’s really interesting that he started the business in the garage,” said his daughter, Lisa Sugimoto. “I remember sitting on the garage floor and helping him.”


Sugimoto’s lifelong love of aviation fueled his business.

His success turned into a fortune that he has shared generously with a long list of charities and organizations for decades, many in Asian and Japanese-American communities.

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“You know, I’ve had reasonable success in my business and in my life, so there’s no point in hanging on to that. So I donate where I think it’s convenient to donate my money,” said the 95-year-old.

His daughter said it was important that her father give back to those who helped him succeed.

“To make sure he supports the community that has supported him, and certainly to ensure that the legacy of Japanese Americans lives on through culture and the arts, and certainly through contributions that can be made for them,” Lisa Sugimoto said.

George Sugimoto was recently honored for his lifetime achievement at the Aurora Foundation Golf Classic.

“You guys just don’t know what it means to me and I’ll live with it forever,” the philanthropist said as he thanked the crowd. “I hope it lasts forever.”


George Sugimoto has been the husband of his wife Ruri for 64 years and is the father of his daughter Lisa and his son, also named George.

The businessman always cared about family and hoped to raise good children. It is safe to say that he has achieved his dream and more while touching so many lives.

Despite his success, George Sugimoto – a giant in the community – is just a simple and humble man.

“It’s so funny, my dad is someone who’s not a flashy person, he’s just a very reserved person,” Lisa Sugimoto said. “My father and mother were always like that.”

Surrounded by love and family, he really can do anything.

“Well, I feel good about it, let’s put it that way,” said George Sugimoto. “I really can’t put it into words, but I was certainly happy to do what I can.”

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https://abc7.com/aapi-heritage-month-george-sugimoto-pasadena-california-kgs-electronics/11846898/ AAPI Heritage Month: California businessman and philanthropist George Sugimoto holds close to his heart those who made him successful

Chrissy Callahan

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