SINCE its inception in 1995 FireOne Fireworks’ director Andre Abraham has used fireworks displays to encourage the people of TT to be proud of their country.
In an interview with Business Day, Abraham explained how he used technology, creativity and bright colourful explosives to get people to focus, at least momentarily, on the positive things in the country.
Now, Fire One Fireworks is taking that same positivity and using it to promote TT in Mexico, starting with packaging and branding the same types of shows its showcases in TT.
The TT fireworks brand was in full display at the beginning of May during the International Symposium of Fireworks in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There, FireOne came together with several other fireworks companies, industry suppliers and safety bodies. Along with learning about best-in-class regulations, dealing with emergencies and training on new techniques in the industry, they also learned of the many opportunities for growth in Mexico.
Technical manager Leonardo Palacio explained that Mexico with a population of 130 million, spent many weekends in the year celebrating for religious and political reasons. There was also a huge market for fireworks there because the people love it.
More importantly, through market research, FireOne discovered they were poised to fill several gaps in the industry. Palacio said because FireOne has access to top-class materials, technology and technical know-how, they would be able to deliver shows with a quality that many companies in Mexico would find more difficult to deliver.
“Sometimes in the internal market, regulations and other challenges that Mexican companies would have, like costing and logistics, would mean they could not reach the level that we are at. When we saw those gaps and we found an opportunity because we are in the region. We basically share the same waters and we have similar agreements in terms of trade,” Palacio said.
FireOne was currently working with consultants and specialist companies to complete the process, which involves legal and financial matters, plus permissions and regulations set by the Government. Once these things are handled, they can begin launching offices.
However, Abraham pointed out that fireworks were a very small part of the overall package.
“TT does not produce fireworks so we cannot export it,” he said. “But what we can export is the know-how and the technical service. Our objective is to deliver top class shows to Mexico, then deploy the know-how in terms of creating the simulation, preparing the show then deploying the shells which come from different parts of the world.”
Mexico is not the only country that will be able to experience the TT brand of fireworks. Next August, FireOne will also be representing the Caribbean at the 17th Ostfildern Fireworks Festival in Stuttgart, Germany
Abraham said representatives from the symposium in Mexico saw recordings of one of Fire One’s Independence Day displays and was so impressed that they were asked to share the German stage with fireworks companies from Europe and Asia.
Abraham said its success, despite the environment in which companies now have to work in because of the economy, stems from the desire to be the best at their business: fireworks and firework displays. He said because of the consistently top notch shows that FireOne has put on for a number of years, they were prepared to take on any opportunity that came their way.
“We were sharpening our tools so when the moment came for us to enter Mexico we didn’t just enter there talking. We went with research and development and a skill set that could show what we did in TT.”
Abraham said FireOne tried not to focus on sales and profitability, but rather the quality of the product and the shows. Their shows are first conceptualised using a computer simulation, which details the exact positions that the firework shells would need to be placed to have the exact effect as the simulation. Even the powder that is used in the shells for the displays are in accordance with TT law, but also coincide with US best standards. Abraham explained the explosives in the fireworks have a lower level of gunpowder than what is allowed in Europe, which makes the fireworks less noisy, but much safer.
“This mindset is what really has put us apart from the rest of the market. So much so that we are one of seven or eight companies in the world that can operate at this high level, which gives us access to markets like Mexico, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, even the US,” Abraham said.
The company’s work ethic is not the only thing that dictates its success and growth in international markets. Abraham said one of the main factors for growth was the desire to promote the same positivity that it encourages citizens of TT during Independence Day fireworks displays and other shows. He said although the company is expanding to international markets, its main focus will be to make TT, through its business, a better and more positive place.
There was too much negativity in the country, he said, and FireOne’s firework shows help people to focus on this country’s blessings instead of its problems.
“Through our product, the intention is to get people to look up. We force you to look up. In that moment you look at light over darkness, you look at colours, you look at the brightness and the positivity. People might recognise we are Trinidadians – not African or Indian or Syrian,” he said.
Through its fireworks, FireOne wants people to look up, go to the park with their kids and create a social activity with their families. “We want you to stay home and do a barbecue instead of go out and do a set of feteing and liming.”
Abraham said through the company’s expertise and passion it was able to make a fireworks display for last Independence Day, which inspired thousands of people all around the country who last year gathered at their homes, at family gatherings and limes, and at the Queen’s Park Savannah to see the show. But they also reached up to 60,000 people who were watching the fireworks display on social media.
For the national coverage of the display last year they filmed the fireworks display with an overlay of the national flag to make people feel proud of their country. This year, according to Abraham, will be the culmination of two years of research, sourcing from suppliers and planning.
“This year is the 57th anniversary of TT’s Independence and we intend to make that show completely awesome,” Abraham said.
FireOne Fireworks was born out of fire.
Abraham’s father lost his business – KS Abraham and Sons – in the 1990 attempted coup. The fire gutted their textile business one year after he officially bought the building which his family had been renting for generations.
“There was no insurance to cover the damage,” Abraham said.
Out of a need to feed his family, Abraham abandoned his ambition to study avionics and between 1990 and 1995, joined with his family, sourcing and selling everything from fabrics to plastics to toys.
“I was doing what I had to in order to survive,” Abraham said. “I would dabble in everything.”
During the day he would sell what he could and in the night he would do research and reach out to suppliers to import items to sell. One day, a catalogue of fireworks came to him in the mail, and as he read through it, childhood memories triggered a desire in him that would change his destiny – and the destiny of the fireworks industry in TT.
“I was reminded of when I was a kid and I used to make smoke bombs and bussing bamboo. I remembered the joy I felt. So I followed my childhood passion. I took all the money I made while selling fabrics and other items and invested it in a shipment of fireworks. We got approval for a bunker from fire service and approval from the ministry. And we have been following our passion ever since.”