holds a photograph of the first fireworks stand he
operated 27 years ago.He
now owns Russell's Fireworks Kingdom
, a 6,000-square-foot, air-conditioned super store.
Click here to view a larger image.Torin Halsey/Times Record NewsRussell Nettles, owner of Russell's Fireworks Kingdom, loads up Joe Lindeman's purchase Monday morning.
is in his
27th year of selling fireworks.His
store offers more than 400 different types of pyrotechnics.
is the King of Pop around these parts.
refers to himself as the Firecracker King of Wichita Falls.
One look inside his
6,000-square-foot building sitting on two acres of land just outside of Wichita Falls on Highway 79 backs the statement up.His Russell's Fireworks Kingdom
is lined from the floor to the ceiling - about 16 feet high - with some 400 different types of fireworks.
The 1985 Petrolia High School
and 1991 Texas Tech
graduate has sold thousands and thousands of fireworks since he
was a youngster, but his
favorite - One Great Mother - was named after his
mother, Patsy Hodgkins.
The One Great Mother is a "500 gram cake" that has 16 firing tubes."It is a great firework," he
talked with the Chinese manufacturer a few years ago and had the special label put on the fireworks because she
is "the hardest working mother in the fireworks business." Russell's Fireworks Kingdom
is a family affair.He
mom and dad, John Hodgkin, along with his
sister, Donna McDavid, operate the business.He
sister has been coming in from her
home in Gainesville, Fla., for the past couple of years to help out.
is proud of his
facility, which is totally enclosed, with 20 tons of air-conditioning and 16 ceiling fans, he
said the key to his
success has been his
family's involvement and the 50 to 60 loyal employees.
"Mom has helped all along," he
said."My sister started coming in 2005," he
...Nettles was born in Stark, Fla.His
family moved to Petrolia
mother's hometown, when he
was about 3 years old.He has lived in Austin 14 years, where he is an environmental engineer for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Nettles
was about 6 when he
became fascinated with "firecrackers."
"My dad bought me some firecrackers one Fourth of July," he
After the fellow sold the store, Nettles
rented a little stand across the street in 1983.The youngster pocketed $1,000 for his
efforts that Fourth of July.
"It was good money for a high school kid, for 11 days work," he
said."But it was hot in there."
The following year, he
set up shop in his
folks' front yard.It was a tiny little stand that he
operated through New Year's Eve 1999. He
then bought the land and a house where his
business has been since 2000.It originally consisted of a 40-foot portable building.The following year, he
added a container stand.Then came another in 2002, and then he
opened a "family pack stand" in 2003.The 6,000-square-foot structure was built in 2004. Nettles
said the house on the land is used as an office.It also has a kitchen and bathroom, he
said 95 percent of his
customer base is repeat business.He
attributes that to his
facility and his
"If I get them out one time, they are coming back," he