He combined painting and decorating with a football career with St Johnstone and Raith Rovers before the First World War intervened.
Now, the business established in a small Meigle shed in 1921 by wartime sergeant Gordon Bannerman is celebrating its centenary.
Bannerman Decorators is one of the oldest family-owned painting firms in the UK.
Run by third-generation brothers Ewan and Bruce, the company has 30 staff and also operates Bannermans Colour Studio paint supplies shops in Perth and Dundee.
Balancing ladders on sets of steps
Much of the success today is due to their father Bill, 91, who joined his dad Gordon straight from school.
Health and safety rules are much stricter in 2021 than when he turned up to work at the firm as a teenager.
“We used to clamber up a three-part ladder, up a fair height, with an apprentice standing at the bottom beside a main road keeping an eye open,” he recalled.
“If a ladder was a wee bit short for a job you’d balance it on a pair of steps and up you went!
“You certainly wouldn’t get away with that these days. It’s mostly changed for the better.”
Early years of Bannerman Decorators
Bill said his father set up the business at a time of mass unemployment in the post-war period.
In his early years as a painter there was tremendous competition in every small town.
Bill said: “My dad was encouraged by local landowners to set-up his own business covering Meigle and Coupar Angus. He had a motorbike and sidecar to get around.
“Even in my time, after World War 2 there were a number of firms operating in the town.
“There were the Gilzeans – one of them was the grandfather of Alan, the Scotland and Tottenham footballer – the Browns, the Robertsons and the Bannermans.
“There must have been 30 painters working in a small place like Coupar Angus around 1950. It’s incredible really.
“I first started working after school. The interest was always there.”
Bannerman Decorators moves to Perth
Bill’s brothers Telford, Norman and Doug and sister Sheila were all involved in the business. His wife Vera did the books and wages.
“When we moved to Perth in the early sixties, our first store was in a stinking, near-derelict Paul Street tenement close to the City Mills,” Bill said.
“It was due for demolition but it was handy because you could open a window and slide in a full-length ladder through the living room and bedroom.
“Moves to Milne Street, Elibank Street, Marshall Place, Fairies Road and the current Colour Studio in the Dunkeld Road followed down the years.
“We have worked all over, on many of the big country houses and we painted Blair Castle twice.
“I remember jobs in the far north of Scotland and as far south as Harrogate.
“But the boys are quick to remind me they topped that by doing one in France!”
What’s the secret for long-term success?
Bill is proud the third-generation firm is going from strength to strength.
He says the community minded firm’s ability to move with the times as key to its longevity.
“There’s very few businesses ever celebrate their centenary and remain in the same family,” he said.
“It’s quite an achievement and one we are all proud of.
“The changes in the industry since I retired 25 years ago are incredible.
“Modern tinting machines are amazing. You couldn’t stock all the colours they can produce.
“So many businesses have the attitude that ‘we have always done it this way.’
“But we have always moved with the times. That is the secret. My father always looked to tomorrow and embraced change.”