The Falconi Story
In 1935, residents of Southborough were having difficulty getting kerosene deliveries to fuel kitchen ranges and to heat their homes. John J. Falconi, while working at the Southborough Drugstore as a registered pharmacist, heard of the need and decided to do something about it. He arranged with a friend to get deliveries of kerosene to tanks located behind the downtown drugstore block. Residents could then bring their empty five-gallon fuel cans down and exchange them for full ones. This was the beginning of a company called Southborough Oil, the start of something that became an institution in town and has now lasted through three generations and 77 years.
Our original office and coal scale house. Circa 1935 – 1951
In 1937, John bought a delivery truck and starting making household deliveries. The new decade brought major changes and growth for the oil industry and the world. In 1940, John bought the Adams Coal Company and moved to our present location at 29 Boston Road. John’s brother, James J., joined him and the business was renamed Falconi Brothers. His sister, Eleanor Montagano, became the company secretary. The office was a 12’x15’ coal scale shed with a small coal and wood heater in the corner. It had no running water.
The world was thrust into the Second World War and before the US entered the conflict, John enlisted in the Navy. This left Jim to run the fledgling coal and oil business. After spending three years in the horrific Pacific theater of WWII on the islands of Pago Pago, Truk, and Funifutti, John returned stateside having attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer as a pharmacist mate. His idea was to make a 20-year career in the Navy, but the continued growth of the family-run business made him choose to come back full time in the late 1940s.
Falconi 1940’s – 1950’s delivery truck
The 1950s saw continued growing demand for fuel oil and automatic heating controlled by a thermostat, leaving no need to stoke the fire with coal or change five-gallon cans of kerosene. Fuel oil sales exceeded kerosene in 1951. Tilio Falconi, John’s older brother, came to work and soon learned the service trade of the oil business. As the town grew, so did the local businesses. In 1952, our present office building was constructed. Most of the lumber and beams came from the salvage of the General Mills grain store located next door after a fire destroyed a big portion of the complex in 1951.
In 1955, the business had three oil trucks, two service vans, two coal trucks, and eight employees. In 1957, tragedy struck when James J. died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 47.
Founder John Falconi Sr. overseeing the original tank installation in 1950
The new decade of the ‘60s saw a complete transformation from coal to oil and kerosene sales declined rapidly. The winter of ’61-‘62 was the start of the snowiest decade on record. Tragedy struck again in ‘62 as Tilio Falconi died of a heart attack in April at the age of 52. By the end of the decade we offered oil sales, propane sales, and HVAC service.
By the mid 60’s the company had four oil delivery trucks, four service trucks, two propane trucks, and was completely out of the coal delivery business. The main office was renovated and enlarged. John’s wife, Ann (Nancy), juggled raising five boys and, along with Eleanor Watkins, handled the office duties.
1964 – New addition to the fleet. Old office building was torn down 2 years later.
Note: Far-right is a glimpse of the massive coal storage sheds and trestle system.
The “Crew” 1960
L-R Frank Pratt, Dick Cruciani, Tillio Falconi, John Falconi Sr, Joe Delarda
The 1970s gave us two Arab oil embargos, wage price freezes, and the doubling of the price of oil almost overnight. Four of John and Nancy’s sons entered the business. Falconi Brothers was incorporated in October 1971, made its first acquisition by purchasing D&F Fuel of Marlborough, and added 80,000 gallons to its existing bulk plant, giving it 110,000 gallons of fuel storage to feed the increased demand for heating oil by consumers. The first embargo proved to be a challenge never seen in the oil industry. People found ways to conserve and alternate fuels (wood, solar, coal) became more popular.
Rick Falconi left in 1976 to form a solar heating business. A second embargo drove the price up even higher. Conservation of energy (oil, gas, electric) became a major focal point for consumers. Towns shut off many street lights; holiday celebration lighting became almost non-existent. Waiting in line for gasoline became a way of life in the late ‘70s.
One of the few pictures with all of the Falconi boys together for a function 1980.
L-R Jimmy, Peter, Ricky, John Sr, David, John III, John Jr.
The onset of the ‘80s brought great promise and a feeling of relief that perhaps the worst was behind us. New equipment was added each year. The company bought its first diesel-powered delivery truck, nearly twice the size of the older ones. A new push was made to sell heating equipment and energy conservation-related products. John J., the founder, started turning over the day-to-day operation to his three sons, John, David, and Jimmy. The company went computerized for billing and delivery forecasting in 1984. The fleet became radio dispatched. Air conditioning sales and service were added in 1988. The office underwent a major facelift and renovations in 1988. All facets of the business continued very good growth as the MetroWest area (as it is now called) saw rapid growth and commercial expansion. John H.’s son, John Jr., came to work, making him a member of the third generation to be involved in the family business.
1996- Final picture taken before the existing above and below storage facility was razed and rebuilt.
The 1990s brought the purchase of the B&G Fuel Company of Marlborough. This was the first of three acquisitions over the next 10 years and it added 400 new customers and another delivery truck. The company then had five delivery trucks, four service vans, and a truck and crew dedicated to installations of boilers, furnaces, and air conditioning equipment. John J. Falconi, founder, passed away in 1991 at the age of 77.
1996 brought a major change. The original storage facility constructed in 1952, updated in 1973, was razed. Installed was a state-of-the-art storage plant. The tanks were double-walled, urethane coated, and monitored by an electronic computer system for inventory, delivery, water, and environmental protection. A Texaco full-serve gas island was the focal point. Falconi Brothers was then a major gasoline and diesel fuel destination for the surrounding area. David Falconi left the business in 1997, leaving John and Jimmy to run the 62-year-old petroleum and HVAC enterprise. In 1998, we bought the L.A. Seymour Heating Company of Marlborough. John’s daughter, Deb, came to work offering the future of the company to be passed to another generation with John Jr. and Deb learning the Falconi way of customer service with a friendly smile and “I’ll be right over” 24/7 service.
Falconi Bros. 1996
The new millennium brought more expansion. The Comey Oil Company of Westborough was purchased in 2000. The acquisitions in the last two years more than doubled our size and number of oil heat customers. Now serving Southborough and 17 surrounding communities, we became a major force in the home comfort industry. A few months after taking over Comey, a major setback occurred. This one would forever change the working operations. John H., diagnosed with cancer, was forced to take a leave of absence. After long and difficult treatment, operations, and lengthy recovery, he returned in the summer of 2001. John, a true and steady force for 30 years, a huge part of the success and drive behind Falconi Brothers, could not fend off the next bout with the horrible disease. John, a highly successful and regarded NASCAR racecar driver having won many races all over New England, competing at NASCAR’s most famous venues, Daytona, Charlotte, Martinsville, and Pocono, against the elite of stock car racing, could not win the race against the sickness he fought so hard, leaving us way too young at the age of 53.
Some of the many race cars fielded by the Falconi Family over the years. Racking up many, many wins throughout the Northeast.
Jimmy continued to run the business with a heavy heart and the invaluable help of John Jr. and Deb. Falconi Brothers now has more than 20 employees, as well as a modern, well-maintained fleet of nine delivery trucks, eight service vans, and two installation vehicles serving 3,500 customers in the MetroWest/Worcester area. Rebranded today as Falconi Energy, we offer gas, propane, and oil-fired heating and domestic hot water system service and installation, as well as complete HVAC service and installation. We like to think we’re “big enough to service you, but small enough to know you”, still providing that friendly “I’ll be right over” 24/7 service when needed. Most of our employees came to work for us and have never left. Two of our most recent retirees made a career here and worked for more than 40 years. We find that our customers do the same thing. Many of them have been with us for multiple generations.
Falconi Energy, today – still proudly serving our customers since 1935