When Bill Paulk opened his coppersmith company in 1985 at age 64 he says it was as “a retirement business.” Now 26 years later at age 90, Paulk gives no hint of real retirement.
“But my wife doesn’t want me to advertise because it might bring in too much business,” says Paulk. The shop is a one man operation and Paulk turns out a hand crafted copper lantern about every four days.
His shop in Mobile, Alabama, has supplied ornamental street lighting for subdivision all over the country.
“I even have some of my lanterns in a residential development in Kuwait,” says Paulk, who explained that one afternoon a guy drove up to his shop in a big black Mercedes. “He got out and walked around for a while looking at the different styles of lanterns. For a while he didn’t seem real interested, but then he ordered a bunch of lanterns and peeled off a wad one-hundred dollar bills to pay for them. He shipped them to Kuwait where he was developing a subdivision.”
Paulk’s lanterns sell for a minimum of $350 with the top models bringing well over $1,000.
Before “retirement,” Paulk spent his career in sheet metal work. He worked with several local companies and did the sheet metal work for the first air conditioning system in the original Battle House Hotel and the Waterman Building, both regional landmarks.
“It’s been a good life,” says Paulk who seems as nimble today as men 30 years his junior.
Indeed it has.
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