How does a 25-year-old guy from Dracut start his own business in the competitive world of oil?
If you’re Leo Vezina and it’s 1976 and you’ve just left your job as a manager with Litchfield Oil, you get Lucky.
No, really, he got Lucky. To be exact, Leo struck out on his own by opening Lucky Burner Service. (He may not tell you, but his office manager, Gail Flaherty, will that the reason Leo left Litchfield is that the higher-ups didn’t like that he made house calls when people called him personally to fix their burner. That type of work, the suits said, was beneath him. Leo begged to differ.)
So he started his own business. He had one truck and when he wasn’t servicing oil burners around Dracut, he was doing the company’s paperwork at his home. Soon, though, people started asking why he didn’t deliver oil, too.
“So I bought a truck and started delivering oil,” Leo says. “I did it all, delivered oil, did the service.”
Within a year, he had 350 accounts, mostly in Dracut. That first truck held 2,500 gallons of oil. He now has four delivery trucks that carry 41,600 gallons. He also has four service trucks. And those 350 accounts he quickly lined up? Lucky Burner Service and Oil Delivery now has about 10,000 accounts around the Merrimack Valley, delivering oil and diesel products, and servicing burners and air conditioning.
By the turn of the century, Lucky needed bigger digs, so Leo bought the old Tony’s Truck Repair and Custom Exhaust building at 1416 Lakeview Avenue and built his current headquarters, opening in October 1999.
Not bad for a kid raised on Goodhue Avenue, right around the corner from his company.
That kid has made some money, yes. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots. He hasn’t forgotten why he started his own business in the first place – that innate desire to help people less fortunate.
Leo works with Community Teamwork Inc.’s fuel-assistance program and with similar programs in New Hampshire.
When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and surrounding areas in August 2005, Lucky Oil worked with the Dracut Knights of Columbus, the Salvation Army of Lowell and the St. Vincent de Paul Society to fill two trailers with food and other items and drive them to the Gulf Coast.
When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas, in 2017, Lucky did the same, with financial assistance from recently deceased Lowell developer and philanthropist Gil Campbell and Trinity Ambulance.
And in 2012, when the Town of Billerica was converting the Marshall Middle School from oil heat to gas and couldn’t find anyone to remove the oil from the school’s tanks, it was Lucky who went and not only sucked the oil out with its state-of-the-art reverse-pumping technology, but also, with assistance from Community Teamwork, delivered that oil to more than 80 households with elderly and/or disabled residents or children under 5.
“Lucky Oil is not just delivering oil,” Leo says.
An understatement, to be sure. Lucky Oil is also providing toys at Christmas for kids in the hospital and at House of Hope, a Lowell shelter for women and their children, as part of an annual effort by the Knights of Columbus, of which Leo has served as Grand Knight. Or Lucky Oil is providing training to members of the Dracut Fire and Police departments. Or Lucky Oil is doing what it can to ensure that people get heating oil in winter even when they’re having trouble paying for it. (Speaking of which, Leo strongly suggests that folks get their tanks serviced and filled sooner rather than later, as there is no sign of the price of oil decreasing any time soon.)
“If a household can’t afford oil, we’ll help them find the resources,” Leo says. “I’ve been doing this for 45 years, and my motto is treat your customers the way you want to be treated.”
Visit www.luckyburnerservice.com or call 978-957-9478.