Fireworks can mark a home run, celebrate the new year and even bring people together from different countries.
The latter is the case for Chinese citizens Nancy Gao and Ally Li, who are visiting the U.S. side of the business that they work for in China’s Hunan province.
Eric Garrett, Eudora, is the wholesale sales manager, new product development manager and China operations manager for Garrett’s Fireworks, a 20-year-old Kansas business.
The company changed its focus from retail to wholesale soon after Garrett graduated from Kansas University in 2004.
The company now exports its Grand Patriot and Lil’ Patriot Fireworks brands from China to retail locations in 19 states.
Gao, 22, is the office manager of the China office and Li, 26, designs labels.
Garrett brought the two women to the United States to show them the culture behind the Fourth of July.
“It’s important for them to see why quality and safety are important and to see how the other side of the business works,” Garrett said. “I think once they see what people in America are buying, it will help them do a better job of creating products that consumers will want. It’s all about getting to know our culture.”
Garrett said he was surprised that the women were able to get visas for the visit, considering their reason to come here was essentially to work with explosives.
But the process, including an interview with the U.S. Consulate, went well.
“I was a little bit nervous, but they just asked us very simple questions,” Gao said.
Gao and Li said there are several celebrations in China that are punctuated with fireworks, most notably every night during the 15-day celebration of Chinese New Year.
“Fireworks are tolerated much more because they are so much a part of the culture,” Garrett said. “When a new business opens, they shoot firecrackers. Sometimes it sounds like it’s raining, but it’s just firecrackers going off in the distance.”
Despite the recession, sales of fireworks were up in most of the areas to which Garrett Fireworks is shipping. Garrett said tradition seems to override financial concerns.
“During a recession or when there are high gas prices, people tend to stay close to their home,” he said. “You'll also see people who work fireworks into their budget.”
Gao and Li will end their visit in the states Sunday, the day after witnessing the culmination of their work.