It came as no surprise to John Alkire’s family when he drove in to his driveway, on a late September day in 2008, with a used oil truck. "We’re going to start an oil company, he announced." John was a visionary - always eager and enthusiastic to start something new. His motto in life and business was always "It’s a great day to be alive!" - which, if you knew him, he said often. He and his wife Lynne owned and operated several businesses for over 15 years - even while maintaining full time jobs in the aviation field. (John was a pilot, Lynne a flight attendant). This was just the beginning of Favorite Fuels.
After several months of intense research, including learning the software and DOT regulations, the doors of Favorite Fuels officially opened in the summer of 2009. During that time, John received his CDL driver’s license, and Lynne quickly learned a lot about "dispatching" and maintaining the office. Two new drivers were hired along with a reliable mechanic. Customers began showing interest and it seemed Favorite Fuels was good to go. There was only one thing missing - Favorite Fuels did not want to be just another ordinary oil company, they wanted to somehow be remembered when the oil was delivered to their customer’s house. John came up with the idea of leaving a fresh box of cookies with every oil delivery. His wife Lynne thought he was nuts! She was more concerned about who was going to actually MAKE these cookies. After finding a fairly simple recipe and an easy way to package – the cookie phenomena began. And it worked.
Favorite Fuels is currently in its ninth winter season and going strong. While depending heavily on cold temperatures, Lynne insists it takes much more than the wintery weather to keep her oil company successful. "I have an incredibly loyal customer base, and quite frankly, my company could not function as well as it does without my employees." Her drivers have been working with her for years, and she contends they are the best group of guys. "It’s not the easiest job - trudging through deep snow, while pulling a 100 ft. hose from behind, not to mention - it’s very cold. They are extremely dependable - I can always trust they will get the oil delivered - even in the most brutal of weather." She recalls the winter of 2015. "The snow never stopped." And neither did Favorite Fuels. "That winter was horrendous for all. My driver’s brought shovels with them in the trucks. The so-called cleared paths to the fill pipes never stayed clear. They went above and beyond - spending most of their time shoveling a new path - and the oil was delivered."
Lynne also believes it is extremely important to offer great customer service. She tries very hard never to miss a call - and when she does it is promptly returned. "I sell the same product as the next oil company down the road. I have to answer and return ALL calls. I think it is refreshing - almost surprising really - to hear a human at the end of the phone now a day." Her loyal customers range as far south as Rowley, Massachusetts, and as far north as Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But one of her biggest customer bases comes from Hampton Falls. "I really appreciate my community’s support. It means a lot to buy local - which I try to do as much as possible." Personally, Lynne knows all too well the importance of having the support of a small community.
On March 8, 2011, Lynne and about 20 other adults and children from Hampton Falls were planning a trip to Gunstock Mountain. Lincoln Akerman School had a scheduled day off and the conditions were predicted to be perfect for "spring skiing". It was a crystal clear 45 degree day. When Lynne woke up that morning with strep throat her husband John didn’t hesitate to jump in and take her place. He loved to ski, especially with their kids - Lauren and Matthew. Lynne remained home manning the office. Around 2:30 the call came explaining John had been in an accident. It had happened on the last run of the day. By the time Lynne had reached the hospital, John had died from his injuries.
As you can imagine, life was turned upside down for the Alkire family. The community immediately rallied to help Lynne and her children. The support was unbelievable both personally and on a business level. At one point, Lynne was uncertain as to whether or not to continue operating Favorite Fuels. Her main concern was her children but she also knew John would have wanted her to carry on and continue to make Favorite Fuels grow. "Maintaining and operating the trucks were not my departments" explains Lynne. "I had A LOT of helpful advice from a few local residents who were familiar with diesel trucks. They were a tremendous comfort, pointing me in the right direction." She also received help from her local friends with a "Favorite Fuels cookie-box-making" party. "I believe about 15 women took a few nights out and made the cookie boxes, hundreds of them, it was simply amazing." Subsequently, with her loyal staff and community, Favorite Fuels continued to grow.
The next chapter of the Favorite Fuels story found Lynne and her children a new chance at happiness with her current husband, John Stevens. His enthusiasm for the business and genuine caring for others (he is a fireman) has enabled them to grow the business further. You will find John behind the hose every now and then, even in the office answering phone calls. He was perplexed at first when he learned about the box of cookies with every delivery but he quickly learned how important they were when he found many customers calling not only for oil, but cookies as well. "It’s just a small token of our appreciation."
Favorite Fuels is looking forward this winter to another busy season. With the addition of a new truck, a few more shovels, the crew is ready to go. They are prepared for very long days and nights. That is when you will find Lynne in the kitchen making cookies, stuffing the boxes.It can get a little crazy in the evening at our house. And when it does, she smiles and thinks, "It’s a great day to be alive!"