Interview with Bill Smith


Interview with Bill Smith


At the age of 19, Bill Smith landed a job at the Gorham Manufacturing Company. In his 25 years in Gorham, Mr. Smith witnessed company highs, such as a 60 Minutes special on Gorham, and lows, such turbulent times during a bad economy. Mr. Smith considers his time at Gorham one of his most meaningful job experiences.

Mr. Smith talks about a changes in day-to-day activities in American homes and how those changes affected silverware production. Slowly these generational changes transformed the role of Gorham silverware from a popular and common product found in every home to a virtually nonexistent role.


October 27, 2011


Araceli Mendez


Bill Smith


The Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI


Bill Smith: By the time of unforeseen circumstances, you know, it happened. They lost business because people weren’t interested in it anymore. The…it was a new generation. The old generation what they did was when people got married they would get a starter kit of a place setting. Okay, you would say…sterling or stainless steel, whatever you want.

Sterling was the main thing. You would get a 5-piece set, spoon, fork, knife; you know that type of thing and that was your starter kit when you get married. What happened then was every 3 years, every anniversary you had another place setting and before you knew it you had a whole …you know dinner set, but nobody does that anymore.

Back in the day, everyone eats out. You got McDonalds, fast food…nobody really sits down and has dinner. So little by little all the stuff is not selling so what happens, you have to cut back. Orders don’t come in. Now what happens is a lot of machines are not working because there is not enough of demand for it so eventually, little by little we went to a smaller building in Smithfield.


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