The partnership between a soldering tool manufacturer and a retired pro golfer might seem unlikely, but Hitoshi Fujiwara, president and CEO of American Hakko, explained that the seeds of collaboration were planted more than a decade ago.
For the second year in a row, American Hakko is partnering with world-renowned LPGA world champion Lorena Ochoa for a golf tournament to help fund her foundation’s school for underprivileged children in Mexico. A sold-out group of more than 100 women golfers is expected for the second annual Lorena Ochoa Charity Classic on Tuesday, June 10, at the Valencia Country Club. Last year’s tournament raised more than $82,000.
“The bottom line is, we need to help those children,” Fujiwara said. “There is such a great reward in being able to give back and help the communities in which we work.”
The Lorena Ochoa Foundation’s main project is the La Barranca Educational Center, an elementary and middle school for underprivileged children on the outskirts of Guadalajara. The innovative curriculum incorporates learning tools such as art and dialogue, games, exposure to nature and more. Each classroom has two dedicated professors, and in the afternoons the school is open to the community to participate in soccer, judo, computer labs, dance lessons, music and drama workshops.
“Lorena has such a dynamic personality, and it has been great to partner with her in supporting the school,” Fujiwara said.
Hakko’s journey toward helping support the school really began when the company took a chance on a new market.
American Hakko was founded in 1984 as an offshoot of its Japanese parent company. In the early 2000s, Fujiwara explained, the electronics assembly tool industry was going through a recession, with areas such as Mexico hit hard. Seeing a potential opportunity, American Hakko set up its own distribution in Mexico, eliminating the middleman. It worked, and within a few years, not only had Hakko’s Mexican operations become very successful, the market was rebounding and other U.S. distributors were starting to return to Mexico.
However, Fujiwara wanted to find a way to give back to the people of Mexico, and it was during this period he happened to meet Ochoa at a golf tournament. Himself a golfer, Fujiwara knew who she was and had a great deal of respect for her. As he learned more about her charitable work, he wanted to help support it. That led to the organization of the Charity Classic golf tournament, aimed at women golfers. Unlike some charity golf tournaments that bear the name of well-known celebrity golfers, Ochoa makes a point to be present on the course, connecting with every player.
“Lorena isn’t just putting her name on things, she is passionate and committed to the causes she supports,” Fujiwara said. “That extends to spending the day with the golfers, hosting a golf clinic, sharing tips and enjoying the great course at Valencia Country Club.”
Ochoa was the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) rookie of the year in 2003, and player of the year four years in a row. She started playing golf at age five and advanced rapidly. By 13, she was the only player in the world to win for five consecutive years the Junior World International Championship and World Junior Golf Championship. She has won 129 local, national and international titles, 27 Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) events and two Majors. In 2010, she stepped back from her golf career to focus on her charity work, golf course design and personal projects, and in late 2011 she had her first child with her husband, Andres Conesa, CEO of Aeroméxico.
About American Hakko
American Hakko was founded in 1984 as an offshoot of Hakko Corporation, which has been a leading global manufacturer of assembly tools for the electronics industry for 60 years, with affiliates in Singapore, China, the United States and Mexico. For more information visit www.hakkousa.com.