Every time we assist to a Fireworks show, the sky turns into colours, sounds flow through the air and the scent of powder fulfils the area. Behind those moments when we enjoy the art of fire there are many hours of work, and also there are companies involved that are necessary to see this colourful explosion in the sky on party nights. We have talked about some of them, today we present Plasticos Gamón.
The website PiroFan continue to bring to you the fascinating world of pyrotechnics and its surroundings. after a busy 2014 full of magnificent fireworks displays, we continue discovering other companies related directly to the sector of Pyrotechnics. At the cradle of Spanish pyrotechnics, in Burjasot (Valencia) we found Plasticos Gamón, designers and manufacturers of products and accessories for pyrotechnics.
Introduction / Company Info:
Its first activity dates back to 1965, when two brothers, Fernando and Manuel García Gamón decided to start this industry. Given its location, the most prestigious Valencian pyrotechnic firms were their first customers. Its activity has revolutionized the fireworks industry by creating innovative products that enhance safety.
Nowadays, the second generation, cousins Antonio M García-Gamón Valero (aka Toni Gamón) and Fernando García-Gamón Antón are leading this company that already distributes its wide range of products for many customers around the world.
Toni Gamón, Manager at Plasticos Gamón, told us some curiosities about the company.
Although this question certainly will be answered better by his father or his uncle, how arises the idea of creating this industry, a reference for pyrotechnicians?
The company was founded as a factory of plastic parts in general; open to all kinds of items, from toys to industrial parts. Given our location in Burjasot, my father and my uncle were friends of the families Brunchú and Caballer, and also, the great love of pyrotechnics brought the idea of making a rocket head by using a candy baby bottle we already manufactured, and substituting the candies inside by powder stars. That was the beginning, and then started to emerge design collaborations to make parts such as solutes and shell casings.
Daniel: The early life of a company is always complicated. We assume that being in such a traditional fireworks area helped Plasticos Gamon to consolidate. How was the initial acceptance by the firework Manufacturers?
Toni: From the first moment, the products were really successful, that does not mean that we had to do tests (and we did a few!) before placing the product into the market, but plastic parts have two major factors that contribute to revolutionizing manufacturing fireworks: because its waterproof properties and uniformity of size, allowing to increase manufacturing capacity, also improving the safety in the manufacture and storage.
The collaboration of local fireworkers, both with their advice and with their willingness to use their facilities for the various tests that were made, allowed us to present to the market a wide range of products. Then, thanks to the fact that Valencia was the capital of pyrotechnics in Spain, other companies began to experience our products and used them at their local shows.
Daniel: Polymers surround us; they have brought a revolution in the industry. How does the plastic break into a purely traditional sector? What advantages and disadvantages have plastic over traditional materials?
Toni: As we have said before, there are countless advantages that polymers contribute to our daily life and of course, also to the manufacture of cases and accessories for pyrotechnics.
In our case, they provide the properties to produce pieces in a uniform, tight, boltless, waterproof, and resistant to inclement weather, with a lower weight and greater resistance. Those are constantly evolving materials that allow us to put into the market more suitable and technical parts, with high technology polymers that most of the times are specially manufactured for us.
Daniel: Selling abroad. When did you decide to sell your products outside Spain? Are there any other competitors?
Toni: The export market was the third market (Valencia, Spain, and the world) and its truth that in the beginning it came by itself. Like fireworkers from Galicia (a region in the northwest part of Spain) came to Valencia to watch the shows and buy some pyro here, then they heard about our company and visited us, it was the same with foreign companies. They came to Valencia and knew our parts while visiting the Valencian Fireworks factories. Now things have changed and it is us that what we travel to sell around the world, participating in fairs and international symposia like ISF, or the American Congress APA.
We do not have too many competitors, most of our products are patented and we invest much effort to develop new pieces each year. Our catalogue includes 400 active and more references 600 in total, including moulds for each. Still, there are companies that produce some parts, but none making exclusively for fireworks like we do. We believe that knowledge of pyrotechnics is essential to develop new items and that’s one of the reasons to make our products so successful.
Daniel: What types of plastic do you use for your products?
Toni: In the beginning we used three basic types: polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene. At present, most of the mixtures we use are either prepared by us or we hire manufacturers that produce raw material to combine different grades for us exclusively. The evolution of the different raw materials has been extraordinary in recent years and the possibilities are endless. Currently, there are countless types of polymers on the market, each one with different properties, and it is our duty to find the right one for each piece.
Daniel: In your catalogue there is a wide variety of products and accessories (over 500) that are the basis for making fireworks. Do you use a production model like JIT “Just in Time” (make-to order) or do you make-to stock?
Toni: We try to do a mix of both. There are products that we produce and stock and we try to have in our magazines any time, those are the most demanded or those we have reached agreement with any of our customers to ensure a minimum stock. This way they do not have to store the product but have supply within days. In many others, we make-to order, the market is changing very quickly and also regulation force us to modify some designs permanently, we do not stock them so they will not become obsolete.
Daniel: We are at the 21st century; the ecological consciousness is growing deep into society. Have you got any experience working with biodegradable polymers that minimize waste and decay time?
Toni: Our company is greatly concerned with environmental care. For many years, we have been using a percentage of recycled raw plastic to give it a second or third use that otherwise would have ended up with parts in the landfill. We also have a complete line of parts made of biodegradable material. It takes time and efforts to introduce it into the market but gradually its presence is bigger, we cannot expect to change all products from one day to another, even that, which would not be good. We have to use the right product depending on the area where the show is going to be fired.
Also, we have our line of mixed material cases (cardboard and plastic) that provide a 90% organic material but with all the plastic properties in safety.
Daniel: Innovation makes companies highlight from others, in this way, the R&D+i Departments look for improvements and new products. When developing new articles are pyrotechnic companies calling for innovation or do you make inner research?
Toni: We are very proud of the “Gamonets” is the colloquial name that our customers gave our 50mm 9 shoot base. It’s a rack of 9 50mm mortars on the same piece that can be ignited at the bottom. It was a difficult bet for us that involved a very large investment on the mould, but the product is very successful and has adopted the name of our company, creating a new line of products that currently reaches more than 5 different types of Gamonets. Those are Compact Bases that include a different number of mortars and they can be connected at the bottom end. They are reusable, and when they are useless, the customer gets them back to us and we clean and grind the plastic to make other parts, we call that eco- culture.
Daniel: What are the latest R&D Department innovations? What is working now?
Toni: We currently have two products of pure R&D, one is the new system PyroLamas© that we just placed into the market and we are very proud because it is the revolution in the concept of pyrotechnic supports. On the other hand, we are preparing the 2nd generation of single shoot-tubes (monotiros), we invented them over 10 years ago and we think this new approach will change the way we understand the pyrotechnic firing worldwide.
Daniel: Pyrotechnic Mounting bases revolution. What is this new system called PyroLamas©? What are the advantages compared to previous systems?
Toni: PyroLamas© is the new system we developed to simplify assembly of monotiros (single shoot tubes) and fireworks effects in small and medium size.
For many years, the fireworkers have bought different platforms where to place the devices in order to draw arcs and effects on the air. Each of these frames was single, fixed, did not allow to change the configuration nor the use of different calibres. This implied the need for a very large investment in equipment, with side costs as transport and storage.
In Plastics Gamón we started to work on developing a system that would solve every one of these problems. The idea of the PyroLamas © comes from this worry, a scalable system, made of aluminium parts with various configurations only using of two or three different parts. It is lightweight, easy to store, versatile and with a great price.
Allows different configurations and even changes on the Show-site if something unexpected happens at the time of the set up… We have created three basic parts and have ready a few accessories that will make PyroLamas© a global system. Currently we have distributors in Germany, The Netherlands, England, Portugal and Canada.
Daniel: As manufacturers of the necessary inputs for the fireworks industry, Have you noticed the crisis affecting the sector for the last years? Is there a commitment to use domestic manufacturing or is it “Chinese Made” increasing its way into the market?
Toni: We have been competing in the market with Asian products for over 20 years, according to economic cycles their impact is more or less stronger. The problem is not only the crisis, the problem is a double lack of awareness, first by the authorities who have to boost domestic production as it generates wealth and employment, and secondly, the consumer to understand that the European product is safer and better. The crisis has impacted high on manufacturers, companies importing are more flexible to a lack of demand, manufacturers assume daily costs, taxes etc., and if they do not have sales every month, fixes cost can kill you.
Daniel: Are you also a pyro Hobbyist or is it just a job?
Toni: Of course, not only to me but to the whole family loves fireworks, and as we already have a third generation, we try to educate our sons on the love and respect for pyrotechnics and traditions. Spain is a leader in pyrotechnics in many aspects and one of the reasons is its will to preserve their traditions.
Fireworks let us bring food home, but also make our souls happier.
Daniel: Any stories or curiosity to add?
Toni: Anecdotes there are many, I still remember a client who sent me some drawings for a very complicated piece because he wanted us to make a new mould, and after consideration, we told him to go to a hardware store where he would find a much easier and cheaper piece compared to the one he wanted us to manufacture. We must meet the needs of customers, not just sell.
We also have a Greek friend with our logo “Gamonet” tattooed on his shoulder because he understood that it represented pyrotechnicias faithfully. We feel respected by pyrotechnic both from Europe and from the rest of the world.
We thank Toni Gamón for having spent his time and attention to this interesting interview and we hope that you consider it interesting.