As celebrations for the upcoming year are being prepared, fireworks suddenly become high in demand. Indeed, it‟s the end of the year when the career of a pyrotechnic specialist is busiest, although the fireworks business has been rising for the past few years. One of Thailand‟s oldest and most experienced fireworks company is Somkoy‟s Fireworks, which has been in business for almost 40 years. Perhaps their biggest moment, though, was their show in 2009 when the company put on for His Majesty the King‟s birthday when they took a major role in putting the fireworks show together.
“Oh, that was the toughest job in my life,” said Mr. Somkoy, the owner of Somkoy‟s Fireworks. “But I got around 2.4 million baht from that job. It was very nice and the fireworks worked just beautifully,” he stated proudly, showing a picture of the fireworks he has made. It was a boat-shaped firework.
Somkoy‟s Fireworks factory seems like a small village where only pyrotechnic experts live. There are five cottages and two storage units. All fireworks are tested on the grounds to avoid accidents. Mr. Somkoy‟s fireworks factory isn‟t so big, though, and is located at Wangnoi, Ayutthaya, not so far from the capital. He has 10 workers in his factory who produce fireworks and install them for their customers.
He started his business in 1974 from nothing. At the time he was serving in the military working with - what else - pyrotechnics, but left the service some time later.
“I got around 500 baht for my first job,” he laughs.“But now I get much more than that, from around 10 thousand to millions.”
He has full-time and part-time employees Full-time employees earn their salary depending on how long they work for the company and they will receive bonuses when they work outside the factory such as putting together a show for a client. The monthly salary for new full-time employees starts at 5,000 baht and increases by 500 baht each year. They will receive a bonus for 200-300 baht per extra job. After deducting all the expenses including his employeesâ€&#x; salaries and the raw material costs, they earn about 40% from the full prices they charge their customers.
When he started the company, the factory was located in Bangkok at Bangkapi. But Mr. Somkoy moved his factory to Ayutthaya in order to avoid complaints from his neighbors and for an easier place to produce and test fireworks and he says the neighbors don‟t mind.
“We test new fireworks everyday!” he said. “Ask the neighbors do they hate it? I would say they love it!”
For the customers who want to have a big set of fireworks, Somkoy‟s Fireworks has three prices depending on how big the show is. The regular rates are 500 thousand baht for the small one, 650 thousand baht for the medium one, and 850 thousand baht for a big one. For smaller jobs you can simply ask them to set them off and design the show.
“Fireworks of logos or texts are the jobs that I prefer because we could earn a lot more than the usual fireworks,” Mr. Somkoy said. “We‟re really busy at this moment of the year during November to December. The good thing is that no matter how bad we perform or how little we earn for the whole year, we always get a great amount of money during the end of the year,” said Mr. Akekachai the son of Mr. Somkoy. “And after New Years, the sales falls until it rises at the peak again at the end of the next year and so the cycle continues.”
The competition of fireworks business is quite intense and it‟s increasing every single year. There are always undercutting competitors. But Somkoy‟s Fireworks never has to struggle for new customers because there are a lot of regular customers and they don‟t fret since they always have a number of new customers contacting them. “We always give it our all in every show, so there is no comparison between the clients who say that their show is better than mine or mine better than yours. When you hire us, you just get: „It‟s beautiful‟.” Accidents can always happen when working with fireworks, but Mr. Somkoy said that his experiences in working with them have taught him a lot of how to work safely with the most dangerous thing.
“I used to have a laboratory in the factory but it blew up a few years ago,” Mr. Somkoy said sadly. “I was so upset and sad that we lost the oxidizing machine, it was very expensive and rare. But that‟s what always happens when you live with these explosives. We just have to be prepared of the unfortunate events. Don‟t be careless no matter what we are doing.” He‟s so devoted to his job, he says he would still keep on doing this job even it costs his life.
This magic of turning dusts into stars is what I have a passion for,” “I do love this job. It‟s my life.
said Mr. Somkoy with a smile.
choose and carefully weight the colormaking chemicals
mix them together
Mix the chemicals ashes from the chaff and dry in the sun
Use the machine to compress into different sizes of pellets
Coat the pellets with another color-making chemicals to make a layer into a different color Coat them again with light-making chemical to make them sparkle
Dry in the sun for a day or two
keep in the warehouse using silica gel
Arrange the pellets into the plastic ball depending on the pattern
Mix chaff with gunpowder and pack them in the ball
Press the ball with a machine to make it firm and tight
Glue the ball with many layers of papers
Put the balls in a tube
Put more gunpowder to deliver Light it with fuse
Bureau of Epidemiology, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health.
Group members: Wassachol Sanhasiree Isaac Jitranuch Tidarat
Sirichanthanun Yamolyong Sirirattanapol Satienpaisarn Puakkray
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