NCI Defeats Mother Nature by TKO

Posted by: Kurt Cowgill | Wednesday May 15, 2019

At the corporate headquarters of North Central Industries in Muncie IN, on the second Saturday in May 2019, it started out clear and sunny, with the temperature setting close to 70 degrees. Meanwhile inside, a week’s worth of preparations were finished and the big day many feel marks the start of fireworks season was upon us. The showroom was set; catalogs, pens, and order forms were plentiful; our cash & carry items were on display; the floors were scrubbed; the video board was hung; and even the Vice President’s perpetually messy desk was cleared. A visit from our recently retired warehouse manager, Charlie, was a nice surprise.

Soon the clouds rolled in, the cold air came with them, and rain started mid-afternoon. The wishy-washy weather forecast turned just “washy”, as the weather radar map showed a solid green blanket over the state of IN from 4pm - 11pm. We received more RSVPs than we ever had before. New customers drove from Oklahoma, staff members traveled from Atlanta, and family members showed up in full force to support the event that has gotten a reputation as one of the best in the industry. Dinner was served promptly at 7pm and the attendees raved about food prepared by a local favorite, Pete’s Bar & Grill.

One thing was for sure, we were going to shoot fireworks no matter what. Rain or shine, it was going to happen. We started preparing for plan B when it was inevitable that the storm was not going to blow over. It has stuck with us since 2014, when we had rain so fierce that we had to make the impossible announcement around 10pm to send everyone home without shooting fireworks. This was a terrible feeling and we were determined that it wasn't going to happen again. This year we arranged a live video feed that displayed on the 16’ x 10’ video board viewable from the dry, warm confines of our shipping docs. We covered the products with plastic to keep them dry until each was ready to be fired. Our firing crew, AJ and Eric, refused to take the loss and braved the 40 degree temps and constant rain to hand fire the show.

We shot over 80 items in 10 different categories. We introduced the crowd to our new brand, Fire Factory, which was received with a warm and, at times, thunderous reaction. We shot the best products we’ve managed to create or find from Great Grizzly, Shogun, HOT, Megabanger, Mad Ox, Pyro Planet, Brothers, Cannon, and Dominator. A small but relentless group opted to brave the conditions outside to see the fireworks through their own eyes, using the shelter of a tent between shots. Large wind gusts and sideways rain made it difficult to keep the demo sheets dry. A few miscues by the announcer (full disclosure: the announcer was me) resulted, but we persevered. Let’s be honest, like us, many of those that were in business during the 2012 season vowed to never complain about rain showers in the 60 days leading up to July 4th, ever again. We made that vow, so the only choice was to improvise and adapt.

It was a grueling fight, but in the end NCI defeated the mighty weather with a TKO in the 12th round when after 82 items shot, a 5 Minute Pyro musical secured victory for the employees, customers, friends, and family of NCI. Sounds of reports, crackles, whistling, and bursting were met with “ooo’s”, “ahh’s”, and cheers. It was all capped with a scripted Pyro musical choreographed by AJ Burns, and with additional setting help from Eric Huffman & Jerry Walker. Peter Rogoz from Shogun also brought some special effects and cued up the finale. Using consumer items from the sample vault of the NCI warehouse, it was a sight to see as it lit up the sky. The majority of the crowd wandered outside to see this spectacle, and they were glad they did.

Everyone showed a lot of understanding, grace, and appreciation that they didn’t get sent home without their pyro fix. It’s a humbling feeling to have received so many compliments about our company, staff, facility, and most importantly our fireworks. Thanks to all that came out, or stayed tuned to our social channels and followed the event. Now, let’s have a great fireworks season!


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