In the heating oil business, January 21st marks the mid point of our season. At that point this past winter, we were having a slightly warmer than normal heating season and everybody was talking about the Super Bowl bound New England Patriots. Nobody was talking about the weather.
Then everything changed. In late January it became very cold outside and then it snowed. It then got colder and it snowed again, and again. It seemed as if two out of three Metrowest homeowners had ice dams, and it still continued to snow. The month of February was the coldest we have had in over twenty five years. The month of March came in like a lion and pretty much roared until opening day at Fenway Park.
The extreme cold and record snowfall caused home heating oil suppliers to encounter very challenging conditions this past winter. Six-foot snow banks and five-foot snow drifts made some deliveries almost impossible. Our oil dispatcher, mechanic and thirteen oil drivers worked extra hard to make sure our customers were able to stay warm.
We want to shout out a big “THANK YOU!” to those customers who kept a path clear for our delivery men to access their fill pipes. As the overnight low temperatures went below zero, our phones rang off the hook with calls from customers who wanted deliveries. By giving us easy access to their delivery area, these thoughtful customers not only assured that they were able to stay warm, but saved our delivery team time, which allowed all of our customers to get oil.
The conditions were so difficult that we encountered new challenges in our delivery department. As a result, we employed several local high school football stars to climb the snow banks and pull the hose through the snow. These kids even shoveled out senior citizens and some who wintered in Florida. Once again we thank our customers, our staff and the kids by working with us throughout the crisis.
There was a bright side, however, as there almost always is. Just as JFK used to claim “out of crisis comes opportunity”, the extreme cold weather forced us to think outside the box. I personally spent most of February driving an oil truck and trudging through the snow, sometimes with one of my sons, sometimes alone. I delivered oil on a lot of Saturdays and Sundays. This gave me the opportunity to see a lot of customers that I have not seen in years. It gave me the chance to thank them for being loyal customers. I would thank them for staying with us; they would thank us for working so hard and never letting them down. My son learned about hard work and how to treat your customer.
We also got hundreds of phone calls and emails from customers of other companies who simply failed, neglected and even refused to deliver to their clients. Unlike Jamie Oil, their aging trucks would not start; their staff was not as committed or resourceful (some stayed home and called in sick) and their customers suffered because of it. Once again JOC guaranteed quality and delivered… and our customers were never at risk.