Beyond The Brush - History

Their friendship grew, rooted in their shared experiences of working in their respective trades, and laid the foundation for an extraordinary enterprise.

It didn’t take John and Gilbert long to understand that there was more work in painting than in building at the time. The pair then worked together as painters for Duncan Brothers Painters until the company wound up. 

John and Gilbert officially went into business together and formed their initial partnership in 1962, Sims & Blue.

James Wren & Co Ltd passed the first job to Sims & Blue, number 43 Carnarvon Street.

Read Our 60th Anniversary Booklet

From its inception, the success of Sims & Blue has been driven by its commitment to training apprentices. 

It was John and Gilbert's passion, and the essence of the company's growth, to bring on young employees and train them in the Sims and Blue way of doing things. This is a tradition the company holds dear to this day, as they head steadily towards 100 apprentices trained.

In the early years the company grew steadily, operating from their yard at the old stables down North East Valley. Their work was mainly residential homes. Then a move to Fox Street where the company kept consistent work in the local area.  In the early days it was slow and steady.

In the 1980’s Sims and Blue opened a branch in Central Otago, based in Alexandra run by Roddy Macdonald. This branch consisted of two to three men, covering the whole Central Otago region. Roddy being a local to the area, Sims and Blue was well accepted. Key jobs included the new Alexandra Post Office, the Railway houses and buildings, and a number of schools. This, along with new homes and a large number of farmhouses, kept these guys busy for a number of years. Over time the Central Otago branch was finished up and work in the region is now run from Dunedin, with the area still very pleasurable to work in with many fond memories. 

The next move for Sims and Blue was to 29 Lees Street, just above The Oval. This is where things started to move forward. Raewynn Sims came on board and the office side of things was brought up to a high standard, and things were done in a professional manner. At this point in our history we had a team of up to 18 staff members. 

School work came to the fore with many schools around Otago being painted at one stage or another by the company. We hold a proud record to this day of painting 149 separate schools, some of which aren’t even open anymore! Our first school was Kaitangata School, and we have worked on schools as far south as Waikoikoi School and as far north as Dunback School. 

In the 1990’s we moved to our current premises at 23 Braemar Street, just across the road from the Old Gas Works. 

Gilbert retired, however was still at work daily helping with deliveries and any way he could. Sadly Gilbert passed away, followed by his wife Raima a few years later. John continued to run the office with Raewynn’s help, and Glenn Sims began actively running the jobs, measuring work, and meeting with the clients to assess their needs. 

The company has now moved into its new formation. Nathan Sims joined the company and alongside Glenn they make a grand team. Both fully involved in running the team on the jobs, meeting with clients and making sure their needs are met, and keeping our team up to the high standards expected from work completed by Sims and Blue. 



Sims & Blue Limited joined the Master Painters Association in 1964 and has enjoyed a long and healthy relationship ever since. As part of the Otago Affiliate, John was active as Otago President for a number of years as well as New Zealand President in 1993. This along with being disputes convener, meant John led a busy life!

The value of being a Master Painter over the years are many. Building friendships around the country and sharing ideas, attending conferences, and being set apart in terms of standards of quality and workmanship required to be a Registered Master Painter. 

Sims & Blue Ltd are PROUD to be Master Painters. 

2018 Master Painters NZ, Special Recognition Award, Outstanding Commitment to Training, John Sims

2018 Master Painters New Zealand, Special Recognition, Outstanding Commitment to Training, John Sims

Hayden came to the company as a 17 year old after completing the pre-apprenticeship training course. Hayden has grown in his time with the company into an excellent tradesman. 

Throughout his time with the company Hayden has always had a    passion for cars and motorbikes, and because of this his skillset is vast. Hayden often finds himself with a bit of a different task whether it be installing Autex murals, spraying a golden buddha, or painting a floor with a thrown grit additive. Hayden puts his creative mind to it and gets the job done. 

Hayden also enjoys passing on his knowledge to the younger tradespeople. We thank Hayden for his ongoing work and dedication to the company over many years! 


30 Years Company Dedication, Hayden Murray

2022 Company Award, 30 Years Company Dedication, Hayden Murray

Kelly came to us as a trainee at just 16 years old. John distinctly remembers Kelly’s Grandfather bringing Kelly into the office. John initially sent Kelly to work with another painter, Phil Ravenwood for some experience. Phil decided not to employee Kelly, so he returned to our office with his Grandfather. We gave Kelly a trial and the rest is history. 

Kelly has turned out to be a fantastic worker. He is a meticulous man for   preparation (he must dream of the hot air gun!), and one of the best in town for sure! 

A loyal team member and one that we are very thankful for.


30 Years Company Dedication, Kelly Broderick

2022 Company Award, 30 Years Company Dedication, Kelly Broderick

Colin comes from a tradesman family, with his father Malcolm an electrician for many years. When Colin said to us he wanted to be a painter it was an easy decision. 

Colin completed his apprenticeship and was very close to being one of the finalists for Master Painters Apprentice of the Year. 

Colin runs jobs (both large and small), and deals with our clients with ease. Colin is also a great team mate to everyone. 

We thank you Colin for what you have brought to our team and hope you have a long and happy future with the company. 


10 Years Company Dedication, Colin Aitken

2022 Company Award, 10 Years Company Dedication, Colin Aitken

PJ was brought to see us by Willie from the Kensington Training School. We were looking for a young person with potential to join the team, and this was PJ.

The real strength of PJ is he believes in getting the job done. PJ has just completed his apprenticeship and has been running his own jobs for some time. 

A recent project PJ completed that we were all very proud of was the tower block of Otago Boys’ High School. All those windows were done by PJ, not a bad effort!

Recently PJ has found the love of passing on his knowledge to the new team members. Well done PJ on reaching 10 years with the company!


10 Years Company Dedication, PJ Wallace

2022 Company Award, 10 Years Company Dedication, PJ Wallace