Zambelli fireworks have lit up the Pittsburgh skyline for years.
Whether it was shooting fireworks off the United Steel Workers building, creating excitement at Beaver County BOOM! or diverting us at the Steelers games—whatever the occasion, they’ve been the center of our celebrations.
But they aren’t just Pennsylvania’s little secret.
In fact, over 800 skies will be illuminated by Zambelli Fireworks this Fourth of July season.
The New Castle-based company started out small in the 1800s as the hobby of Antonio Zambelli, an Italian immigrant, who wrote down his recipes for fireworks in a little black book and worked in the steel mills by day. He shared his passion for his art with his sons who passed their knowledge to their sons. Over a hundred years later, Zambelli is near the top of the pyrotechnic industry and does 25,000 shows per year.
Despite the company’s growth things are still very much all in the family.
For Dr. George Zambelli Jr., the company’s chairman of the board, it is a labor of love. He started working for the company when he was 5 years old using the phone. At the age of 15, he traveled with his Uncle Lou to set up shows, and they slept on the wooden tables fireworks were made on in between sets.
“I lived it my whole life. Y’know, 365,” according to Zambelli, who said it helped him achieve great work ethic.
Now, despite a full-time job as an cataract and glaucoma specialist at his own private practice, Zambelli still is deeply involved with fireworks. “Medicine is so intense, so it’s nice to have a diversion” Zambelli said.
Zambelli’s Uncle Lou, at the age of 86, still works seven days a week creating custom shells for the company, and both Zambelli’s sons, George III and Jared, shoot off firework shows.
Although the company is still family owned and controlled with the burden of hundreds of shows all over the world, the company needs a staff of 50-60 full-time employees and, on the week of the Fourth, 2,000 temporary employees.
Many full-time employees have worked for the company for years and, in Zambelli’s heart, these employees are considered to be extended family members. According to him, their passion helps the team to be creative and innovative.
“Fireworks is not the most lucrative business ... so you have to love it. There are easier ways to make a living, more profitable, etc. but the people we have working for us love what they do,” Zambelli said.