You came from the Theatrical background designing stage effects for the likes of Disney etc… How different is Enola Gaye to that stuff?
That’s like asking what the difference is between a dog and a cat! Previously I had a laboratory about 50 metres from my office and a test site where I could test anything I made, we made small quantities of bespoke specialist products which were exceedingly high quality.
The pyro I designed was used very close to famous actors and singers so safety was paramount. My laboratory is now 7000 miles away so I get to travel the world which is great. Enola Gaye manufactures large quantities of a smaller range of products, however the need for quality and reliability is common to both situations. Enola Gaye is a great fun place to work, relaxed and fairly stress free plus I still get to design and play with some pretty awesome products and watch them spread globally.
Why does it take so long to get a new product into the hands of the users, from the day that it gets dreamt up?
Simple answer testing and regulations. Once we have dreamt up a new piece of pyro we set to work at the factory creating prototypes. It may take me three or four visits to the factory to fully work out and test prototypes before we nail down the design. Then when we have the design and the effect we often test hundreds of prototypes to see if there are any reliability issues or other problems that may raise their head.
Once the design has been confirmed we design the packaging and carry out many different transport tests, one of which is to build a big bonfire, put on full cartons of product, light the bonfire and video what happens!
Armed with the evidence from all the tests we apply to the explosives section of the Health and Safety Executive for transport approval (the UN number and Orange diamond you see on the boxes).
Once we have the transport approval we can import products to send for CE testing. We test the imported products and I create product specific batch test sheets which forms part of our CE application.
We use the German notified body which is probably the most respected organisation in the entire explosives industry, this way we know our products have been tested to the max.
Testing can take up to 3 months before we are given the CE registration numbers. When we have license the numbers we can then complete the artwork for the labels and order the products. It commonly takes about 3 months from ordering to deliver; however before any products are shipped we test them.
The German notified body has granted us permission to batch test our own products (they audit us every two years to ensure our standards are kept high), so once the pyro has arrived in the UK we do the official CE batch testing.
All products have to pass these tests before we can let them loose on the public. Every stage of this process takes time but it ensures the products you receive from us are good quality and have an awesome effect!
And lastly, how many times have you blown yourself up?
Properly, twice but many more close calls especially when I used to do professional firework displays. Once was due to a new wireless firing system I was trialling and developing with another company and the other was an unforeseen error when making a new piece of pyro. The latter was the worst, I had full face flash and ended up in hospital as I had facial burns. All turned out ok in the end, I was just grateful for the flame retardant overalls and protective glasses I was wearing; hazard of the job is suppose!