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Morning Sun
  • Jake's Fireworks cuts ribbon on new facility

  • The ribbon cutting ceremony at Jake’s Fireworks’ new building, at the former Superior Industries building, began with a posting of the colors, the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of the national anthem.

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  • The ribbon cutting ceremony at Jake’s Fireworks’ new building, at the former Superior Industries building, began with a posting of the colors, the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of the national anthem.
    It was appropriate, if not for “the rockets’ red glare” line, then for the American Dream success story celebrated Monday morning. It’s been a long road for Jake’s Fireworks, from a stand at Fourth Street and Lone Star Road just outside of Pittsburg to a half-million square foot facility.
    Monday morning, there were politicians, city staff, business leaders, and community members at the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Though the company has been in the new building for much of the year, the timing was appropriate.
    “It’s fitting to have it today,” said Jake Marietta, Jake’s Fireworks retail sales manager. “It’s during the fireworks season. We’re all going in 90 different directions. It’s the lead up to what makes us go.”
    City/community
    Roughly a year after Superior Industries left the Pittsburg area, city officials began looking at pairing up the half-million square foot facility with Jake’s Fireworks, who was in need of an expansion.
    “We worked on this for four years,” said Mark Turnbull, former Pittsburg Economic Development Director. “The city commission and the economic development group all worked on it. Jake’s had a desire to continue to grow and expand in Pittsburg and Crawford County. That’s a priority for them, and a priority for us to work with entrepreneurs. It’s a great deal. This was one of the largest buildings available in the state of Kansas for some time.”
    Jake’s Fireworks needed the space, but even after securing the deal with Superior Industries, there was a lot left to be done. That’s where another portion of the city and community comes into the picture. Jake’s brought in Rick Thornberry, a nationally recognized fire code expert, to work with now-Pittsburg Fire Chief Mike Simons and then-chief Scott Crain. A number of fire protection and prevention steps were taken.
    “Their fire protection systems are quite extensive,” Simons said. “Codes enforcement did a great job. Systems had to be updated and upgraded to make a difference between Superior’s wheels and this.”
    Before the ribbon cutting, several of the legislators and Jake’s officials spoke in a short ceremony. During that ceremony, Mick Marietta, wholesale sales manager, spoke on behalf of the company in thanking those that had a part in the company’s move to the massive building.
    “We’re going throughout the country... and it’s all based out of Pittsburg. We couldn’t do it without you,” Marietta said. “A lot of people helped us do so many things. So many made a dream possible. So many made the American Dream possible. Great community support got us here.”
    Page 2 of 3 - American Dream
    As for that American Dream, it started in 1938 at the corner of Fourth Street and Lone Star Road just outside of Pittsburg.
    Johnnie Marietta started a fireworks stand, but family members said Monday that it was Helen, his wife, that really pushed the fireworks stand to a new level of success.
    Helen Marietta passed away a few weeks ago, just short of the ribbon cutting for the expanded world headquarters of the company she helped create. Helen continued to work at the same fireworks location until she died. Company officials said that the event was truly her day, remembering the customer service and attention to detail that Helen was known for, and said that the ribbon cutting exemplified the American Dream.
    “She was just amazed [when she saw the new building before her death],” Mick Marietta said. “She was from the Depression, and all of its stages. She had that corner store, and 80 years later, we’ve still got it, and now we’re to this. She was overwhelmed and proud [when we brought her to the new building].”
    Even the dignitaries brought in for the event recognized the American Dream evident in Monday’s ceremony. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said that he was honoring the American Dream exhibited by Jake’s Fireworks.
    “The American Dream is something we need to understand in the Capital,” Moran said. “Republicans, Democrats, [making sure the] dream is pursued is our most serious responsibility. It’s a chance for another Marietta family to succeed... In the absence of the opportunity America presents to pursue the American dream, none of this would be possible.”
    State Sen. Jake LaTurner read from a letter by Gov. Sam Brownback, who could not attend Monday’s ceremony, and said that Southeast Kansas was on the rebound, and Jake’s Fireworks was leading the way.
    Family
    While the event was ceremonial, it was a celebration of the success of the Marietta family and of Jake’s Fireworks. But the event also had a little bit of sadness, especially after the loss of Helen Marietta last month.
    “To me, this is more emotional than you can imagine because of my grandmother,” Mick Marietta said. “...This is the first time in our entire lives she hasn’t been there. This was her grand opening.”
    The timing of her death was important, as it was before the truly busy portion of the fireworks season. Jason Marietta said that there was even a clause in her will that if she had died within a few days of the Fourth of July, that her body would be frozen until July 5, to look out for the company.
    It was her customer service that set the tone for the company for nearly 80 years. Mick Marietta said that the fireworks stand she had opened with her husband had only closed for seven days in 44 years, and four of those were for the funeral of Mick’s great grandmother.”
    Page 3 of 3 - “We had a gentleman in his late 60s or 70s, and he had a 4- or 5-year-old boy in tow. He saw her and asked if she remembered him. Grandma popped up, said, ‘Yeah, you’re such and such, and I used to send you home to get permission from your mother before I’d let you buy fireworks,’” Mick Marietta said. “He’d brought his great-grandson with him. He shopped there as a kid, and he took his kids, and now his great-grandson all went there. Four generations. We’ve got four generations now working with Jake’s Fireworks.”
    The company is no longer just Mariettas, though. The company employs a broad spectrum of employees, and has even added three or four dozen jobs just since the move to the former Superior building.
    “We’re not only a family business, but our employees are like family. We’ve grown together. Kids I grew up with now work for us. We’re family as far as they’re concerned. People who work here understand that we’re all in this together. They understand we’ll be there in the good times and the bad times,” Jason Marietta said.
    Beyond the employees, Marietta said Jake’s Fireworks was grateful for all who helped the company make the move.
    “...Sometimes, when I pull up to this place compared to where we were, I pinch myself. The city was great, the community leaders were great. A lot of them helped us get here. We didn’t just walk into a place like this,” he said.
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