A local medical student is filling large shoes, hoping to spread joy throughout Utah County communities while honoring the legacy of a late friend.
Originally from Canada, Duncan Neil Lillico spent 12 years in Provo working for the Summerset Corporation and starting his own property development company. Additionally, Lillico founded a local fireworks company, Provo Fireworks.
Lillico died unexpectedly on Nov. 21, 2018, after experiencing a pulmonary embolism. He is survived by his wife and three children. After Lillico died, friend and fellow entrepreneur Brian Parker knew Lillico’s legacy could live on through his work.
“We were kindred spirits,” Parker said. “We got to know each other a little bit throughout over various, independent ventures.”
In June of 2019, which would have been one of the busiest seasons for the up-and-coming Provo Fireworks, Parker reached out to Lillico’s wife asking if he could do anything to help. Parker said she had previously told him that she had too much inventory.
Parker suggested taking the inventory and hosting a three-day buyers sale and cutting her a check for what sold. The sale went off without a hitch, and Parker wrote Lillico’s family a check for almost $70,000.
While Parker and Lillico’s wife were packing up after the sale, he asked her what she planned to do with the company, expecting that the family might dissolve it with Lillico gone.
Instead, Parker said she asked if he would like to take over Provo Fireworks, adding that Lillico would have wanted someone like Parker to have it.
“I was honored and excited,” he said. “That wasn’t my plan originally, but I said, ‘Yes, absolutely.’ ”
Parker said the venture couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Brigham Young University alumnus Parker is now a third-year medical student at the University of Utah.
Medical school, he said, is quite expensive and students are not permitted to work during the school year, so having the opportunity to oversee a seasonal company with a plethora of potential was just what Parker needed.
In one of his first acts as the new owner of the business, and to honor Lillico, Parker changed the name of the company from Provo Fireworks to Duncan’s Fireworks.
This year is the business’ first year under Parker, and to further honor Lillico’s memory and support his family, Duncan’s Fireworks is donating 10% of the business’ profits to Lillico’s family, this year and every year moving forward.
The rest of the money will go back into the business in an effort to grow the company and keep Lillico’s legacy alive.
“It’s important to me that, in Duncan’s honor, I keep trying to take care of the family,” Parker said. “The bigger the check I can cut them the better.”
While the name has changed, Parker said, as much as possible, he wants to keep Lillico’s business model the same. Provo Fireworks had become well-known for its prices, being able to sell the same fireworks from larger retailers at half the price.
Parker said he and Lillico appreciate the joy and wonder fireworks bring people of all ages, especially during celebratory times of the year, including the 4th of July, Pioneer Day and New Year’s Eve.
With Duncan’s Fireworks, Parker is hoping to continue the tradition of supplying affordable fireworks to Utah County residents in an effort to spread joy, especially with the state of the world.
Additionally, Lillico had used his company to build personal relationships within the community.
“He took a great interest in people,” he said. “It wasn’t about making money, it was just about sharing fireworks because he loved them and he loved people.”
Parker said he has always respected and admired the special understanding Lillico had with residents and consumers and wants to maintain that approach.
Looking forward, Parker said he hopes to continue to grow Duncan’s Fireworks to serve more and more communities and lend greater support to Lillico’s family each year.
Duncan’s Fireworks is currently looking to set up a second location in Salt Lake City for next year’s 4th of July season. Parker also has received some requests for franchise locations in Texas.
For now, Parker is focusing on the communities that Lillico cultivated relationships with, setting up shop in a tent located at 775 N. Main Street in Springville, just miles away from Lillico’s spot in previous years.
In Utah, fireworks are allowed to be sold from June 24 to July 25, from Dec. 29 to Dec. 31, and two days before and on the Chinese New Year.
Fireworks can be discharged between July 2-5 and July 22-25 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., except on July 4 and July 24, where the latest time is extended to midnight.