TNT Fireworks: This member is on FIRE
For Shoals locals and many Americans alike, when the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve roll around, the thought of where to purchase fireworks is a no-brainer. TNT Fireworks, headquartered in Florence, Alabama and a proud member of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, has been in the business for more than a CENTURY. Wow! So, with the Fourth of July being just around the corner, we thought what better time than now to share with you the history of America’s #1 Bestselling Brand of Fireworks.
Clyde W. Anderson began what is now TNT Fireworks in Florence, Alabama in 1920. What started as selling fireworks out of a newsstand located on the corner of Tennessee St. and Court St. created an opportunity in 1932 to launch an advertising campaign and expand his business.
Fourteen years later, 12-year-old Charles Anderson Sr. dipped his toes in the business world by setting up a firework stand of his own near a grocery store on the edge of Florence. Upon graduating from the University of North Alabama in 1956, Charles joined the family firework business full time.
After working in the family business for nine years, Charles and Chan Fu Yu formed a partnership and together created Anco Yu Far East Co., a Hong Kong-based exporter of consumer products from the far East. The same year, Charles’ brother Joel joined the family business.
1966 marked a significant year as it was the first time the name “TNT” was used in association with the brand.
Two years later, TNT Fireworks established a partnership with Milton Dropo, owner of Dixie Fireworks and Washington Fireworks, both of which later merged with TNT to generate significant expansion efforts of the company.
When President Richard Nixon opened trade with China in 1972, Charles took advantage of this opportunity and accepted an invitation to visit China to explore possible business ventures. As one of the first U.S. business leaders to be invited to trade with China, and while visiting, he began sourcing fireworks.
In 1985, TNT began selling products at chain retail stores. Between 1988 and 1990, several large acquisitions were made that expanded the company’s presence in the Western and Northwestern United States. Pyrodyne America, Freedom Fireworks, Atlas Enterprises, and Red Devil Fireworks were among those companies.
Joel Anderson headed the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory, or AFSL, formed in 1989 to ensure safe products were being imported into the United States- a critical step for the industry’s safety and longevity.
TNT continued to expand throughout the nineties with the acquisitions of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s OK Fireworks and Indiana-based Family Fireworks.
In 2002, TNT consolidated all of the company banners that had been acquired over the years into one unified brand. From that point on, the company began solely doing business as TNT Fireworks.
The company has continued to grow over the years, including playing a pivotal role in liberalizing state fireworks laws. Several states have begun to allow the sale of consumer fireworks or have changed the product types available. In 2015, TNT Fireworks added a fourth-generation family member, Carson Anderson, to the family business.
Today, TNT Fireworks operates in 49 states, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Clyde W. Anderson’s once roadside newsstand now services more 40,000 big-box retail locations, 5,500 seasonal stands or tents, 25 Supercenters, and hundreds of wholesalers. TNT Fireworks celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2020, which is something that less than one percent of all U.S. companies have been able to do.
We are so proud to have this firework empire in our community and as a member of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. It is with the help of companies such as these that we are able to provide the services that we do to our membership and community as a whole. Over the years, we have enjoyed watching TNT Fireworks continue to expand into the international company they are today and cannot wait to see where the future takes them.