Given Fred and Judi Danforth’s reputation for great energy, innovation and creativity, it might come as a surprise that they’ve just hit the big four-oh: Danforth Pewter is celebrating their 40th anniversary is this year. Of course, 40 hardly constitutes ‘old age’ in a family enterprise that started out, in its first and original iteration, back in 1755.
Fred Danforth is actually the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of esteemed Colonial-era pewter smith Thomas Danforth II, who opened up shop in Middletown, Connecticut. Generations of Danforth pewter smiths followed, until the later 1800s, when pewter lost its luster in favor of ceramics, and the Danforths went on to other pursuits. (including inventing the Danforth anchor!).
Fast forward to 1975, when the couple “re-birthed” (Judi’s word for it) Danforth Pewter after five generations of dormancy, from a barn in Woodstock, Vermont. Sharing a passion for pewter, Vermont, and their burgeoning business, they grew Danforth Pewter to include retail and wholesale divisions, acquiring sought-after Shirley Pewter and WT Wilson Pewter product lines, holding exclusive license from Disney for pewter Winnie-the-Poo products and more.
Their full product lines now include kitchenware, barware, jewelry, gifts and lighting fixtures, which they design and manufacture in their 10,000 square-foot facility in Middlebury.
“Over forty years, it’s remarkable the number of people we’ve worked with, the places we’ve gone, and the number of phases of the business we’ve been through,” Judi says.
Their commitment to fair employee wages and policies, the environment and social responsibility is very much in sync with the Loan Fund’s goals and mission,” said VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia. The Danforths first met up with VCLF to help complete the acquisition of the Shirley Pewter line, and ties have remained strong, with Danforth returning this year for supplemental financing.
“If we hadn’t had VCLF’s assistance to help us grow and get through the tough time in the economy, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for us to continue. And we’re very appreciative,” says Judi.
Visit Danforth’s website and shop online at www.danforthpewter.com