How it all started
Since 1987 our family has always LOVED fireworks. Every year, we would invite family and friends to the farm for the Showalter 4th of July celebration. Steve would go out and buy the two biggest fireworks assortments he could find and tell everyone else to bring what they had to fill in around ours. He would divide the fireworks up between several containers, and then everyone would start shooting! Hamburgers….Hot dogs….Mom’s potato salad….and FIREWORKS!
In the spring of 1987, someone approached us wanting to rent a small corner of our alfalfa field to set up a “mom & pop” fireworks stand. We agreed, not knowing that this was about to change our involvement in fireworks FOREVER! What we discovered was that other people loved fireworks ALMOST as much as we did, but they needed a place to buy & shoot them. Reno County had banned fireworks, and our location was conveniently just across the county line into McPherson County, where you can shoot fireworks year ’round on private property. Steve was excited! He had found a new adventure to work on. We built a 20 x 20 lean-to shed with a dirt floor and started looking for a vendor to purchase fireworks from. We placed our first order – – buying $1,000 worth of fireworks. Using calculators & card tables, poster board signs and cardboard boxes for bins, the stand opened June 27, 1988. “What we didn’t think about ahead of time was that when the sun went down, our solar-powered calculators didn’t work,” laughed Steve. “I immediately jumped in the truck and headed for town to buy a generator and a string of lights!” The first year, we ordered 30 cases of fireworks and sold them all. The next year we increased our order to 60 cases, then 91 cases in 1990. “Now we import thousands!”
By the end of our first couple of seasons, we realized that we needed a way for more people to be able to shoot their fireworks off in our alfalfa field. Throughout the next 11 months, we collected up 55-gallon barrels. Just before fireworks season #3, we arranged 20 barrels in a semi-circle to make a firing line. This worked great until we had more people than barrels.
As each additional year came, we kept adding and improving things to keep up with the demand. We expanded the building twice; more than tripling its original size by the mid-1990’s. We added a concrete floor, entrance & exit gates, cash registers & checkout counters, people to direct traffic, door greeters, stockers, sackers, and of course ~ more barrels.
Around 1995, we met a guy by the name of Jack Clements who owned a Class B fireworks company, Rainbow Fireworks. We had approached him about shooting a display fireworks show for us the night of July 4th, as a thank you to our loyal customers (and our neighbors who had to listen to 10 days of explosives). He helped us acquire the proper licenses, and we shot our first display show. One show led to another, and eventually Steve & his oldest son, Matt, were shooting shows around the area on an annual basis. We started telling Jack that when and if he decided to retire, to come talk to us first. It wasn’t long, and we received that phone call.
Since then, business has literally been one explosion after another. We are now a part of hundreds of different display firework shows. Shooting across an 11 state area during the 4th of July holiday week, bringing smiles and laughter to thousands of spectators.
Where we are now
In 2021, Rainbow Fireworks, Inc. was purchased by youngest daughter Stephanie and her husband, Jason Ukele, and continues to be a family run business.
In 2022, we purchased Gladiator Pyro, based in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. In this acquisition, we welcomed Troy Wisdom as our Missouri General Manager, further expanding our fireworks footprint.
We want to share that same inspiration with you. We would like to turn your 4th of July or any celebration into a family or company favorite. Call us so we can discuss with you how your upcoming event can be made more memorable with the use of fireworks.
FIREWORKS AREN’T JUST FOR THE 4TH OF JULY ANYMORE!
- Phone: (620) 663-7714
- FAX: (800) 884-1218
- Address: 76 Plum Avenue Inman, KS 67546
- E-Mail: [email protected]
Before you go out and have fun, be sure to check out this video on Fireworks Safety
Proud member of National Fireworks Association
Countdown to July 4th!