EDC Board Member Dreams Big With Fireworks
Roel Villanueva’s spacious new fireworks warehouse just north of Expressway 83 in Mercedes is a fulfillment of a boyhood interest in pyrotechnics and a way to give back to his community.
Villanueva is a State Farm agent and a member of the board overseeing the Mercedes Economic Development Corporation. His insurance business is in Pharr, with an eye toward Mercedes, where he grew up and still lives. A hope to open a business in his hometown merged with his longtime fascination and passion for fireworks when Villanueva opened Killer V Fireworks & Pyrotechnics on Dec. 20.
It’s located on 432 N. Michigan Avenue in Mercedes, and within easy view of the expressway. What started in 2006 with the selling of fireworks in front of a small booth in front of his home in south Mercedes grew over the years to a spacious warehouse with thousands of fireworks products for sale.
“I never dreamed I’d go this big,’’ he said during the Dec. 20 grand opening festivities. “Slowly, it started getting bigger and bigger, with the (product) variety and prices I offer, and then I thought, you know what? This is possible.’’
Villanueva was exuberant during his grand opening day on north Michigan Avenue and reflected on what it meant to open a new business in Mercedes.
“It means the world to me,’’ he said. “I’ve always wanted to do something in my hometown. I wanted to put my money where my mouth is. I didn’t want to just talk about bringing business to Mercedes. Here’s what I’m doing. What are you doing?’’
Growing The Business
Villanueva as a youngster was enthralled with fireworks.
“I loved the smell,’’ he recalled of the end-of-year family celebrations that included popping fireworks.
He was not even 10 years of age when a mishap with a Mexican palomita firework resulted in it popping at a too-close distance to his right ear.
“I lost 20 percent of my hearing in that ear,’’ Villanueva said. “Did that deter me from my love of fireworks? Absolutely not.’’
He began dabbling during early adult years in accumulating fireworks and putting on small shows for family and small gatherings. In 2006, he “still had the bug,’’ and it’s when he began his small fireworks stand business at his Mercedes home during the designated days when those products can be sold in Texas.
“Every year, it grew a little bit at a time,’’ he said of the south Mercedes fireworks stand. “It was a little business to support my habit.’’
In 2020, during the months of COVID-19 when outdoor activities were deemed to be safer than indoor events, Villanueva said his fireworks sales tripled. His sales doubled the next year and it’s when Villanueva began thinking he could bigger when it came to selling fireworks. He also became state licensed in pyrotechnics, meaning he can stage large fireworks shows in addition to doing the same on a smaller scale for weddings, graduations and birthday parties.
The opening of Killer V Fireworks is a culmination of Villanueva’s success of many years in selling fireworks while maintaining his insurance business. Fireworks in Texas can only be sold during designated days that are adjacent to holidays like the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day. His customers come from all over the Rio Grande Valley and he’s centrally located in Mercedes.
“The heart of the Valley is my center point,’’ Villanueva said of his business’ location just off the expressway. “We get customers from all over, Brownsville, Rio Grande City, Raymondville, and it’s because of our pricing and variety.’’
Add in that Killer V’s opening at the end of 2023 capped a banner year for Mercedes in new businesses opening in the city and it gives Villanueva an added level of satisfaction. He lauded the leadership of EDC executive director Melissa Ramirez and her staff along with city government leadership in boosting growth in Mercedes.
“This is my town,’’ he said. “I want to do what I can for Mercedes.’’
- Ric Cavazoz