From the Midwest to the South, Bruce Pyles moved nearly 1,000 miles to sell fireworks. With what started out as a summer gig, grew into a full-time opportunity has now turned into an almost forty-year career.
Bruce has experience in all aspects of the fireworks business, from running retail locations to building warehouses. He understands what is takes to operator a successful business and keep customers coming back for more fireworks!
How did you get started in Fireworks?
I started selling fireworks during the summer of 1980 in Springfield, MO. Two years later, I went full time at Red Rocket in Charleston, MO. Then, in 1994 I moved to South Carolina to build and open a warehouse and retail store in Rock Hill and have been there ever since. So, when 2020 rolls around, god willing I will have been in the industry for 40 years.
Without naming names give us a “classic” fireworks story
Before 1994, each winter I would travel to Ponchatoula, LA and work the New Year’s season. One year we hired a young man to make customer deliveries for us. He was new to fireworks, but we knew his father and he was local. This was before DOT decided to become such a nice partner in our industry.
He had made several deliveries without incident and we felt comfortable sending him on a longer run. We loaded up a 1-ton pickup with a big cargo shell on it and sent him to Meriden, MS to one of our favorite customers. By nightfall he still hadn’t made it back, we called the customer who confirmed the delivery and cash payment were complete and the driver had left several hours ago. It was a lot of years ago, but I still remember the amount to be $17,516.00. Later that night, still no word, so we reported him missing with cash!
Late the next day the New Orleans Police located the truck close to Bourbon street but there was no sign of the driver. Finally, on the 3rd morning early, he calls in and tells us the story that he had been kidnapped when he was at a rest stop and taken to New Orleans and Robbed. They had finally let him go that morning and he was at the bus station getting on a bus back to Ponchatoula. We told him we would pick him up at the bus station and take him home. We did pick him up but drove him straight to the Ponchatoula Police station where they were expecting him. It didn’t take long for his story to change – he made up the whole thing and instead had taken the large bag of cash and had decided to have great time on Bourbon Street, not a penny left.
What are your favorite fireworks?
With so many new ones each year, I don’t know that I can name one favorite. Black Cat Paparazzi, Black Cat Diablo, Hit the Road Jack and Step Mutha to name a few. I do know this. I love the smell of all Fireworks going off…. they smell like money!