Case Study

Zambelli Fireworks

Zambelli Fireworks was formed in 1893 by Antonio Zambelli when he emigrated from Caserta, Italy to New Castle, Pennsylvania. His son, George R. Zambelli, Sr., began working in the business in 1946 and assumed management in 1957. George, Sr. remained Zambelli Fireworks's CEO until he died in December 2003, when George, Sr.'s daughters took over the day-to-day management of the company. Over the 100-plus years of its operations, Zambelli Fireworks has produced displays for presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and G. W. Bush. Zambelli Fireworks produces more than 1,700 annual fireworks displays including many international programs in the West Indies, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the Bahamas.

After George Sr.'s death, the family contacted Aspen to discuss what their alternatives were relating to generating liquidity and increasing the diversification of the family's assets. While an outright sale of the business to a competitor was the most obvious alternative, the family was concerned about its employees and the long-term brand equity that had been built up over the 100+ years that the business had been in operation. With Aspen's assistance, a plan was devised to transfer the ownership of the business from Mrs. Zambelli to George Zambelli, Jr. and a private equity partner. This transaction enabled the business to remain "in the family", while both the Zambelli brand name and the company's long-term commitment to its home town of New Castle, Pennsylvania were maintained.

We view this transaction as proof that we know how to successfully represent the various constituencies that are involved when it is time to transfer the ownership of a family-owned business to the next generation.