Ep 121 – Bob Bergman “Eight ways to make a buck”

This week I’ve got Bob Bergman from Blanchardville Wisconsin.  He bought an old blacksmith shop 50 years ago in Postville, Wisconsin.  He talks about his beginnings and traveling through Europe working and learning at 15 different shops over 2 months.  He tells us the history behind the Postville Blacksmith shop which started in 1856.

  

What We Talked About

  • Bob started working in an advertising agency after college and immediately knew that business suit and desk were not for him!
  • He then accepted a production assistant job for a feature film, it was 1968, the spring Martin Luther King was murdered. NYC was becoming electrified, amped up, so Bob decided to move out of state and look for land in Wisconsin.
  • After purchasing 4 acres and a house, his realtor took him by an old but still operating blacksmith shop that was for sale. He met the 80-year-old blacksmith, who was the second owner of the business, and decided to purchase the business from him for $500 (the building, the tools, the land)! The first owner opened the shop in 1856.
  • Bob learned his basic blacksmith skills from a local country blacksmith, Thomas Cameroon, who lived up the road from Bob’s newly purchased shop.
  • In 1976, Bob attended one of the first ABANA blacksmith conferences in Carbondale, Illinois. He met Francis Whitaker at this conference and he wanted to learn more from him, so Francis told him he had to take a class first at the John C Campbell folk school.  Bob signed up long with Clay Spencer, Ray Nager, Glenn Gilmore, Jim Matson and more.  They would all continue to take master classes from Francis for the next few years.
  • Bob continued to travel through the US and apprentice with working blacksmiths during his slow winters. In 1985 he also traveled through Europe, doing a journeyman type program over 2 months, working in 12 to 15 different shops in different countries.
  • In the late 1990’s he expanded the shop by adding 4000 sq ft building and a 3000 sq ft machine shop to complete bigger jobs.
  • After 50 years in business, Bob is ready for retirement and looking for a buyer for the business, shop, tools and land. If you are interested in more details, you can contact Bob here, (608) 527-2494 or email postvilleblacksmith@gmail.com.
  • One “Golden Client” hired Bob to do a large amount of architectural work at his private home in Ridgeway CO, most of that work has been documented in the book called “Heritage in Iron”.

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