JOPLIN, Mo. – When you think of fireworks, you probably think of the 4th of July.
For a Carl Junction man, it’s a year-round priority. The one who turned his world of work upside down.
“No, no, when I was 20, 21, Steve, I never thought I’d be here,” said Steve Houser, Red Rhino Fireworks.
Steve Houser’s fireworks business is very different this year.
“My wife kind of refers to it as, ‘Oh, now you’re on your ‘working day in China,’ because obviously we’re literally reversed from their timeline. So our six in the morning right now is their eight in the evening,” Houser said.
Hours that he must now last.
Houser is in his 16th year as a fireworks wholesaler, but he added a whole new dimension in 2022.
“So we basically went from just being a fireworks business to being kind of a freight forwarder and a real importer,” Houser said.
Prompted by the pandemic challenges of 2021.
“Our rates in the pyrotechnic industry have quadrupled. So we were paying, you know, $9,600 to $9,800 for the pre-COVID container, and in two years we were paying close to $45,000,” Houser said.
Even just moving these shipments around was also a problem.
So he partnered with a Chinese consumer fireworks exporter and another local fireworks wholesaler to charter their own boats.
“You know, we got better rates, but what we really got was the ability to move products, whereas in most cases before chartering the boat you had a limited number reservations you could get on a container, so if you had 50 containers you wanted to ship, you could only ship 10,” Houser said.
New and improved logistics have a huge impact, from lowering prices to filling shelves.
“By the time fall rolls around, we’ll be completely ready to go for another 4th of July right now,” Houser said.