ABOUT SIMS GARDEN MACHINERY
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Our modern, 700m2, showroom features a huge range of machinery of all sizes from small hand-held equipment to ride-on lawnmowers.
A fourth-generation family owned company. Serving it's loyal customers since 1908.
In 1908, Frank Harold Sims (agricultural engineer by trade) was working for Glovers, an agricultural merchant in Birmingham. He was 23 years old with a recent arrival in the family; 1 year old Harold Walter Sims (the current Managing Director’s late father).
In those days Birmingham had a thriving agricultural market and farmers would come in from surrounding rural areas to purchase their supplies. It was at this time that Frank decided to set up in business on his own in Moor Street, virtually opposite Moor Street Station. He named the business F.H. Sims & Sons Ltd.
Within only a few years, Frank had 4 children and moved from Moseley to Solihull. On leaving school not long after the end of the First World War, young Harold joined his father in business and in 1936, Frank and Harold opened up a new branch on Bridgefoot in Stratford-Upon-Avon. This must have been immediately successful as after only 3 years they moved to a larger premises on Meer Street in the town centre. The company remained here until the late 50’s when Meer Street was developed; this was when they moved to a purpose-built premises on the corner of Western Road and Birmingham Road.
In 1948, Frank sadly passed away and it was about this time that his younger son Bill (William Frank) joined the business to work alongside his brother, Harold. This was in good time as during the 50’s with the demand for food, mechanisation of farming and advances in agricultural engineering, the company continued to expand.
In 1955, Bill’s son Brian joined the business straight from school, and worked at the Head Office in Birmingham. In 1960 this head office moved from Moor Street to Milk Street (Digbeth) to allow for Birmingham City Centre’s redevelopment. It was also in this year that Harold unfortunately passed away, leaving one young son; Barry Anthony Sims (our current Managing Director). In Harold’s place, Bill Sims took over as Managing Director and two long standing employees, Ernie Coulthard and Ken Beale, joined the board alongside Bill’s son, Brian. Ernie was the middle of three generations of the Coulthard family to work for the company over a period of some 70 years, his son Jeff continuing until retirement in 1991.
The company’s fortunes fluctuated during the 60’s and 70’s before continuing to grow with the improving fortunes of farming following the UK’s joining of the EEU. In 1969, Barry Sims joined the company from agricultural college and he and Brian went on to run the company together.
By the mid-1980’s farming began to struggle; farms had grown bigger and more efficient and there was a huge over-production of crops. With bigger farms there were in fact fewer customers, and the golden era for agricultural engineers was coming to an end. In the mid-1980’s, one of the company’s main suppliers had undergone a merge with another company and F.H. Sims & Sons were to lose their tractor franchise to Saville Tractors; the mergers more local dealer with a larger number of outlets throughout the GB and Eire.
In the following 5 years the company very nearly went out of business despite much cost-cutting. Times were indeed, tough. In 1980 there were 4 medium to large agricultural machinery dealerships in Stratford, including Sims, with various others not far away. By the year 2000, there were none.
At their Stratford site, F.H. Sims & Sons had sold some garden machinery but it had always been very much a minor part of their business. In 1990, the decision was made to withdraw from the loss-making agricultural market, close the Birmingham head office, and concentrate on expanding the garden and ground care side of the business in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
This seemed to be a decision well made, as within 5 years, Sims was probably the biggest in Warwickshire and with the extension of the showroom they had become one of the major outlets for quality garden machinery in the country. In 1999, the company name was changed to Sims Garden Machinery Ltd; as it has been known ever since.
One hundred years on from when young Frank decided to start up on his own as an agricultural merchant, the company began another period of expansion with Frank’s grandson, Barry, heading the move to purpose-built premises the other side of the canal in the exciting new development; the Waterways. This move was finalised in 2009 with the company relocating to the new building that was four times the size of the old unit. This same year Sims was awarded “Dealer of the Year” by Service Dealer Magazine for a showroom which as they describe became “a standard of excellence for others in the garden machinery business”.
As the company settled into its new location, a fourth generation was introduced to the business. In 2013 Barry’s son, Ben, began working for the company part-time while he completed his degree at the University of Worcester. Since graduating in 2016, Ben has worked full-time for the company and is now a manager himself. With his millennial perspective, Ben has helped to bring the company into the 21st Century by creating and building the website, introducing online sales, and becoming an expert with the robotic lawnmowers.
F.H. Sims & Sons Ltd, Moor Street, Birmingham
Founder, Frank Harold Sims
Harold Walter Sims pictured with son Barry Sims