A Family Business is Born
ON MARCH 17, 1871, in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, Alvin Hollis (and his brothers) distributed a flyer to prospective customers that stated his company would “deliver ice by careful and attentive drivers three times per week in warm weather.”
From Ice, to Firewood, to Coal
Alvin Hollis supplied ice to customers, but he quickly diversified. Careful and attentive drivers made their way to outlying farms where they also delivered firewood, coal, hay, grain, and flour. As years passed, subsequent family owners also kept an eye on market changes and diversified accordingly, always retaining the policy for customer service.
The Second Generation
Leonard Bicknell, Alvin’s son-in-law, operated the company delivering coal in the first half of the 20th century, and succeeded, despite the Great Depression.
The Third Generation
Alvin Bicknell, took over the reins in 1939 when Leonard died. Alvin was just 18 years old. The third-generation owner directed business during World War II and supervised the company’s transition from coal to fuel oil delivery. Post World War II years spurred fuel oil growth, although by 1971 there were still 25 coal customers on the books.
The Fourth Generation
Len Bicknell and his brother James became company directors in 1989. They were the fourth generation to see that South Shore customers receive fuel to heat their homes. Like their father, the brothers acquired several companies in order to add customers. Like their forbears, they observed New England consumer needs and adapted company services accordingly.
The Fifth Generation Leads On
Laura Bicknell-Carbone, Alvin Hollis’s great-great granddaughter, started as a 16-year-old typist and is now vice president of the company that provides heating, air-conditioning, and plumbing services throughout the south suburbs.