In The News.

More than just a fuel oil seller

Williams Energy aims to meet all of customers’ heating, cooling and plumbing needs

– December 18, 2014

Brian and Gavin Williams of Williams Energy, which used to be called Williams Coal and Oil.

Brian and Gavin Williams of Williams Energy, which used to be called Williams Coal and Oil.

By Shina Neo

THE PATRIOT LEDGER

There’s a sense of tradition and pride in what they do at Williams Energy, a fourth generation family-owned business that supplies fuel and energy services to homeowners and businesses on the South Shore.
For the father-and-son duo Brian and Gavin Williams, it’s all about maintaining customer relationships and providing quality service.
Williams Energy started as G.A. Williams & Sons Inc. in 1919. Founder George A. Williams was focused primarily on construction at the beginning. His daughter and seven sons worked in the family business. Which branched out to provide coal, oil and plumbing services.
In the early 1970s, the oil embargo had people looking for alternatives to oil, and the coal business started to boom. according to Brian Williams, George’s grandson and CEO of Williams Energy. A decade later, with the demand for oil waning. Williams decided to expand into electricity.
The diverse services it offers are what set Williams Energy apart Williams said. He called it “a mini utility company.”
“My philosophy has always been more services to the same customer, because we become more valuable to the customer and vice versa,” he said.
How has heating the average house changed over the years?
When I first came into the business, the average home used about 1.500 gallons of oil per year. The average home today uses about 750. Within five or 10 years, the average home is going to use about 500. And within 20 years, the average home will use about 350 gallons. When I first bought my house. it used 3,000 gallons of oil. Today it only uses 500. It’s Staggering what people can to do.
How does Williams Energy stand apart from other utility companies in such a competitive market?
There are a lot of heating companies out there. It’s competitive, there’s no question about that. We do multiple services. That’s the competitive edge that we have. We can provide the plumbing, the heating and the electrical services for that same customer, whereas somebody who just does plumbing, he may not do heating. It makes it easier for the customer because everybody today wants convenience.
What are some challenges owning and managing the company?
Tho biggest challenge is training the personnel. We do so many things here. Many of the heaters today are like mini computers. So we train and retrain the personnel, because many of the heaters have computers in them. We have to go to school to learn about that. The old heaters were pretty basic. With all the new equipment, we have to retrain the guys. I’m a big proponent of education. I’m always sending the guys to schools. We have manufacturers come in here and they’ll give training on the latest equipment.
What is your strategy to promote energy conservation?
We are constantly servicing equipment. We take efficiency tests on people’s equipment today, so anybody who has an efficiency rating under 80, we would suggest they may want to consider new equipment. If you can save 15 or 20 percent on your fuel bill, you can make an economic case that it’s justified to replace your heating system. The other thing we promote, although we don’t do it, is insulating your home. You’re paying for The heat; you want to keep it.
Does promoting energy conservation affect your fuel sales?
The fuel sales will be hurt by that, but at the same time, it builds the customer relationship. The fuel sales will be affected on one side, but on the other side we are doing more service work so it balances out. You can’t be shortsighted about it. I just sold new heating equipment to this person who is now very happy, and now he is going to tell somebody else. so it spreads the business.
How would you describe the way you manage the company?
Integrity is big with me. The nature of this business is we have 25 service people who are out every day fixing people’s heaters and plumbing problems, some during the day and some during the night. I tell these people, when you’re fixing something for somebody, you do what you would want someone to do for you. I always tell them I want it done right never let money dictate your decision.
Shina Neo may be reached at sneo@ledger.com.
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