In April 1908, Kanekichi Yasui established Yasui Sewing Machine Co. in Japan to repair imported sewing machines and manufacture sewing machine parts. As Kanekichi was in poor health, his eldest son, Masayoshi, helped his father in the workplace. By the age of 16, Masayoshi had acquired almost all the skills required to become a sewing machine mechanic. Following Kanekichi's retirement from the company in May 1923, Masayoshi, then 19, effectively took over the Yasui Sewing Machine Company's reins.
Most of the sewing machines repaired at Yasui Sewing Machine Co. were chain stitch sewing machines used to produce straw hats. Die tools and hydraulic presses used to shape the hats and sewing machines were necessary equipment for straw hat manufacturers. Masayoshi built a small new factory to produce hydraulic presses based on original designs and production methods. Masayoshi and his brothers also began making straw hats, and they conducted research into sewing technologies and mastered the basic techniques required for sewing machine production. By 1928, after two years of painstaking efforts, the Yasui Brothers established a new store named Yasui Brothers’ Sewing Machine Co. and launched the first Japanese -manufactured chain stitch sewing machine into the market. They chose the brand name “Brother” to emphasize the cooperation they displayed in realizing their dream.
Roy Nakagawa, a Japanese American, enlisted in the Army, where his assignment was to teach Japanese to American soldiers at the University of Michigan. After the war, Roy moved to Japan as part of a military project. One of his students from the University was Max Hugel. Together with Bernie Etzin, an American born in Japan, they formed a company that exported Japanese-made novelties to the U.S.A. While meeting with his old teacher, Max told Roy about their company and their extensive U.S. contacts and convinced Roy to join the company. Later, Roy met Mr. Yasui, who owned a company that made sewing machines. Mr. Yasui was looking for someone to distribute his company’s sewing machines in the U.S. as Mr. Yasui’s sewing machines had a reputation for quality and reliability and, as a bonus, had a memorable American name: Brother. Roy, Max, and Bernie approached Brother and asked to become the official U.S. distributors, and the company known as Brother International Corporation was born. At that time, Brother products included home sewing machines, zigzag sewing machines, home knitting machines, electric washing machines, small lathes for schools, and electric fans.