August Evers, the son of a Hamburger merchant, was born in 1841. After completing his training at a shipping company cum import/export firm, it was not long before he turned his back on Hamburg. The destination of the young full trader was China. In 1862, at the age of just 21, he embarked on the journey by ship to Hong Kong. Together with him on board was the young merchant from Düsseldorf Louis Kniffler, who in 1859 had founded the first German company in Japan. In 1862 he took on August Evers. And so it came about that the young Hamburg full trader, who had set off to try his luck in China, landed in Japan. A few years later he had advanced to the position of authorized signatory and already enjoyed an excellent reputation amongst the small foreign colony there.
Julius Simon, born in 1846 as the son of wealthy parents, had initially busied himself in the search for a purpose in life. After an abandoned apprenticeship as a silversmith he managed, with the help of his uncle, to find a position with a trading company in Sydney. But that didn't hold him there for long, either. He worked as a shepherd, in the Australian mines, as a deck hand, a cook, a steward and a sailor. It was more by chance that he landed in Shanghai, where he was discharged and was caught up in a rebellion that almost cost him his life. After his Chinese adventures, Julius Simon set out for Japan. In Yokohama he found a job with the trading company Gütschow & Co, where he soon made himself a carrier. After a short time he advanced to the position of authorized signatory and was sent to Hyogo, nowadays Kobe, where he founded and managed a branch office.
And it was 1865 in Hyogo that Julius Simon and August Evers met for the first time. The two men soon became close friends, as the company chronicle put it. In particular they recognized the huge opportunity that the beginning industrialization of Japan represented and they decided to participate in this by founding their own firm.