Founded in 1908, Brother is a leading brand that supplies a diverse range of reliable and innovative products to more than 100 countries worldwide. With a rich history spanning more than a century, Brother has grown from humble beginnings into a diversified multinational corporation. While its technology and business activities have evolved over time, a foundation of strong leadership and product innovation has remained constant throughout Brother’s history and remains just as important today as it was in 1908.
Yasui Sewing Machine Co., a company that sold and repaired sewing machines, was established in 1908 by Kanekichi Yasui, the father of the founders of Brother Industries, Ltd.
Masayoshi Yasui, the eldest of ten children, began helping his father at the age of 9, and at 17 he began working as an apprentice in Osaka. With the sewing machine market at that time dominated by imported products, Masayoshi was determined to “develop this import-based sewing machine industry into an export-based industry” by introducing domestic production.
While a lack of production facilities and advanced processing technologies led many to believe it was impossible to produce sewing machines in Japan, Masayoshi’s resolution never wavered. He started developing and selling hydraulic presses to produce straw hats, while at the same time carrying out research on sewing machine manufacturing.
The research paid off when Jitsuichi Yasui, Masayoshi’s younger brother and co-founder of Brother, succeeded in developing shuttle hooks, a main component of sewing machines. In 1932, the Yasui brothers successfully introduced the first sewing machine made entirely in Japan.
From early on, Brother was driven by its motto “superior quality and diligent service”. This motto is key to the company’s continued prosperity and reflects its commitment to producing quality products – a value that continues to be passed down to every Brother employee.
The Brother Global Charter, in defining Brother Group’s basic policies for the new era, includes “commitment to quality”, “customer-first” and “care for the environment”. The Charter’s preamble states Brother’s responsibility: “Brother Group’s mission is to create and quickly deliver superior value to customers through our high quality products and services.”
Produced in 1928 by the Yasui brothers, who sought to produce sewing machines domestically, this was the first chain-stitch sewing machine for producing straw hats. It was the first product marketed with the “Brother” brand, which was named after the Yasui brothers’ collaborative effort that realised the production of this sewing machine.
Interestingly, “Brother” was not the first brand name considered by the Yasui brothers when naming their first model. Initially they chose “Sister” because the majority of sewing machine users were women, but it turned out that the name was already registered as a sewing machine brand name. Drawing inspiration from their strong family ties, founders Jitsuichi and Masayoshi Yasui then decided to go with the name “Brother”.
In 1933 the company built a new factory in the area that is now the Mizuho Ward, Nagoya City, for domestic mass-production of sewing machines. Taking the next step towards mass production, the Yasui Brothers Sewing Machine Shop was liquidated on January 15, 1934 to enable its incorporation under the name Nippon Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co., which subsequently began to manufacture industrial sewing machines in 1936.
In 1941 Brother Sales, Ltd. was established in order to develop a sales network in Japan. In 1947, at the request of the Japanese government, Brother exported 200 sewing machines to Shanghai. This was the first step in developing the import-based sewing machine industry into an export-based industry, which was Brother’s ambition since its founding.
Using the technology it had developed through the manufacture of sewing machines, Brother started to diversify into other business fields by beginning production of knitting machines and home electric appliances, and experimenting with electronics.
In 1954, in an effort to increase exports, Brother International Corporation was established as an exporting company. With the establishment of a sales base in New York in 1954 and its first European production base in Ireland in 1958, Brother actively promoted internationalisation in advance of other Japanese companies.
Around the same time, the U.S. sales company strongly recommended the production of portable typewriters, emphasising that typewriters were becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. as an office necessity. Through steady effort, the engineering team finally succeeded in developing a low-cost typewriter of higher quality and greater durability than those marketed by their competitors. Brother typewriters were then exported to the U.S., where they soon acquired a reputation for quality and efficiency, marking the company’s entry into the information and communications equipment field.
In 1961, the Headquarters building was completed in Japan, and 1962 saw the corporate name changed from Nippon Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co. to Brother Industries, Ltd. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, Brother provided 300 typewriters for journalists from abroad, which greatly helped improve recognition of the Brother brand.
By 1971, Brother was making typewriters in more than 20 languages and exporting them to 110 countries around the world. Along with sewing machines, typewriters became the company’s flagship export product.
Adding electronics technology to a mechanical base was a natural step for Brother, which from the beginning has been actively engaged in the development of new products. In 1971, Brother successfully developed the world’s first high-speed dot-matrix printer, an achievement considered to be the origin of today’s printing technology. This product, developed jointly with a U.S. venture company, earned a reputation both in Japan and abroad for its impressive high print speed compared to contemporary machines of the time.
In 1980, Brother developed an electronic typewriter (EM-1) for office use that featured daisy wheel printing using a linear pulse motor, and the product soon acquired an excellent reputation. As an official supplier of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Brother provided 3,000 typewriters, thereby gaining international recognition as the No. 1 typewriter brand.
Following this period, Brother released a unique “Labelling system” product, which used thermal transfer technologies developed through the production of electronic personal printers and Japanese word processors. In 1987, Brother began the production of facsimile machines, further strengthening the company’s position in the information and communications equipment field.
In 1992 Brother introduced its new “FAX-600” facsimile machine in the U.S. and it quickly became a big hit, catapulting Brother into the next era – the real Network & Contents era.
Following its success, Brother developed a competitively priced, high-performance multi-function fax machine. Brother hit the jackpot when it decided to tap an emerging customer segment that its competitors had not noticed: the growing numbers of venture businesses (SOHOs) with small offices requiring inexpensive office equipment.
In 1995, Brother marketed its Laser Digital Multi-Function Centre, which integrated printing, faxing and copying functions into a single unit. This newly integrated machine accelerated the growth of Brother’s printing business. Brother then introduced a Colour Inkjet Digital Multi-Function Centre. As a result of these product innovations, Brother’s information and communications equipment business expanded exponentially.
As an organisation doing business globally, Brother Group adheres to a “customer-first” policy in all aspects of its operations. We are dedicated to providing superior value to both our existing customers and our future customers. Based on these principles, Global Vision 21 was established in 2002 as a mid- to long-term corporate vision of Brother Group. The objectives of Global Vision 21 are:
Brother has been striving to achieve these objectives under its customer-focused management system, focusing on its three business segments:
The Printing & Solutions (P&S) business is committed to the advancement of printing technologies. P&S offers business solutions designed to fit perfectly in the SOHO (small office home office) environment and in departmental work groups in larger companies, designing products that help streamline workflow and add efficiency and convenience.
The Personal & Home (P&H) company mission is to provide customers with sewing and embroidery products that are fun, easy to use and can provide a myriad of ways to enhance their creativity.
The Machinery & Solution (M&S) business offers customers “solutions” that meet and exceed the needs of their production sites for industrial sewing machines and machine tools. While remaining steadfast in its tradition and spirit of manufacturing, Brother pledges to continue to create and quickly deliver superior value to our customers through our high quality products and services.