Atlas PyroVision fireworks display division sold to Penn. company

Oct. 6—For decades, Atlas PyroVision Entertainment has left its mark on the skies across New Hampshire — and beyond — with its fireworks displays. Now, after 73 years, the Jaffrey-based company is in new hands.

Stephen Pelkey, owner and CEO for 37 years, announced on Oct. 1 the company's professional display division was sold to Pyrotecnico Fireworks in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Atlas has been known as the largest fireworks company in New England having done high-profile events, such as Fourth of July fireworks displays over the esplanade in Boston and National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Pyrotecnico Fireworks will run its northeast division out of Jaffrey.

Pelkey and his family will continue to own Atlas Fireworks shops in Amherst, Belmont, Newport and Rindge. The Amherst store is closed for renovations and set to reopen in March.

The discussions between the two companies started in early April, Pelkey said. The terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

"It was a bit mutual," he said. "We've been friends, competitors and colleagues for many years."

A lot of it came down to timing for Pelkey.

"I'm 60 years old. If it's not now, it's when," he said. He wanted to go out on top.

Pelkey will stay on for between a year and 18 months as part of the transition. He will spend time doing show designs, production and working closely with customers.

Pyrotecnico has agreed to keep on 16 full-time and seasonal workers. The company has about 450 technicians and drivers who work on a per-diem basis.

The company is also committed to supporting Jaffrey's 250th anniversary celebration next year.

"Part of the deal, if you will, is to allow me to use the resources and personnel to put on a 250th program," Pelkey said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlas had to deal with a number of challenges including canceled events and challenges of getting products from China when factories shut down and supply chains broke down.

"We were fortunate to have retail sales," Pelkey said.

Pyrotecnico has expanded in recent years and partnered with Nevada-based Nova Sky Stories to add drone light shows to the mix.

Besides Fourth of July, Atlas PyroVision has done events at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, including a recent Aerosmith concert, in which Atlas partnered with Pyrotecnico before the acquisition was finalized. Pyrotecnico does work on Aerosmith's residency in Las Vegas.

Atlas also partners with the city of Manchester for its Fourth of July fireworks and the Fisher Cats for shows after select home games at Delta Dental Stadium.

The 30 days between June 15 and July 15 are always crunch time for the company.

For many years, the company was known for Jaffrey's Festival of Fireworks, in which designers showed off new products and techniques to residents, visitors and prospective customers.

"We had fans from all over the eastern part of the United States come to the little Monadnock region," Pelkey said.

The company has taken part in international display competitions and provided fireworks for companies like Disney.

Most recently, Pelkey touted the largest fireworks display in New Hampshire at the Sky Show at Arms Park in Manchester. The event organized by Chaos and Kindness drew tens of thousands to hear about a half-dozen bands.

The fireworks went off while Recycled Percussion played live.

"I said, 'Let's give it everything we got and make it the best ever,'" Pelkey said. "My team did a heck of a job."

Atlas dominated more than 60% of the fireworks industry in New England, and joining Pyrotecnico will increase that number.

"Their resources are just very far reaching," Pelkey said. "They have a very large special effects event company. They have a stage and lighting company."

Pyrotecnico is now the largest pyrotechic firework display companies in the country after also buying Melrose Pyrotechnics in Indiana earlier this year.

Pelkey is glad to see to company grow.

"Having a homegrown business and going into more of a global brand is probably my proudest achievement," he said.

jphelps@unionleader.com