Englishmen James and John Starkey and Robert Cheshire Janion founded Starkey, Janion, & Co, a trading company in Liverpool, in April 1845. They chartered a vessel and filled it with general merchandise valued at $80,000; it set sail for Honolulu. On arrival Janion rented a room on Nuʻuanu Street near the waterfront and hung out a sign “Starkey, Janion & Co.” The firm quickly prospered. Later, William Green was appointed to run the business. A Welshman, 23-year-old Theophilus Harris Davies, was persuaded to go out to Hawaiʻi as a clerk.
Eventually the Janion-Green partnership was dissolved and Davies became Janion’s partner. In 1876, Davies incorporated Honolulu Iron Works with Janion, Janion’s wife, Green’s mother and Alexander Young. Davies took control in 1881. Davies proved himself an aggressive promoter and was adept at raising capital and helped finance a total of 22-sugar plantations during his career. Years later, Davies was a stockholder in von Hamm-Young Company, forerunner of The Hawaiʻi Corporation. Formerly organized into merchandise, insurance and shipping departments, Theo H Davies set up subsidiaries for all its activities. It was one of Hawaiʻi’s Big Five (Amfac – starting as Hackfeld & Company (1849;) Alexander & Baldwin (1870;) Theo H. Davies (1845;) Castle & Cooke (1851) and C. Brewer (1826).