DRACUT -- He doesn't really know how he got the nickname "Lucky."
"I've just had it all my life," says Leo Vezina, owner and founder of Lucky Oil and Burner Service located at 1416 Lakeview Ave. "My mother called me Lucky since I was a little boy."
Vezina, 61, was born and raised in Dracut. He opened Lucky Oil and Burner Service in 1974. His clientele has boomed and today he boasts four oil tanker trucks and two service vehicles. He employs four people full-time.
He is active in the Dracut community, serving on the town's Committee of Rules and Regulations in addition to his involvement with the Knights of Columbus, the Rotary Club, the Greater Lowell Salvation Army's annual radiothon, the D'Youville Manor Men's Guild and any number of other organizations looking for help.
"I have a hard time saying no," Vezina says. "This business has allowed me to make a decent living and I feel like I have the obligation to help out if there are people who really need it. I wouldn't want to do anything else for a living. You get to help a lot of people and your customers become your friends."
There are times when Vezina has to work a seven-day week, but he says it's worth it.
"I'm grateful to all my customers for their friendship and all the business they have given me over the years," he says.
Q: What is the advantage of heating oil over other forms of energy?
A: "Efficiency. You get more BTUs out of a gallon of oil than out of a gallon of gas.
Q: What is the advantage of dealing with a local company?
A: "Obviously, we get to know our customers and they know us. They know we will respond within one hour of a service call. Besides that, you're supporting the local business in your community. That's how communities stay strong."
Q: Is shopping around every time I need oil the way to get the lowest price?
A: "No. Calling around isn't the right way to do it. If it's a 10-cent difference in a gallon, let's say, a tank might mean a $15 difference. But you won't get the dependability you will from someone you've been with for a long time and you won't get the service you would from somebody who knows your needs."
Q: What do you offer to attract customers?
A: "We have fuel assistance programs that we deal with. That's very helpful to homeowners. We offer a budget program where we have 10-month and 12-month payment plans, which people think are great. We have 24-hour service and no minimum delivery. If people are really up against it, we'll go down as low as a 50-gallon delivery. You have to work with people through the hard times. They've been with you through all these years and you have to work with them."
Q: Where can homeowners go for help in paying their heating bills?
A: "C.T.I. (Community Teamwork Inc.) has a fuel assistance program. Joe Kennedy's Joe-4-Oil will give you a one-time allocation of 100 gallons. If you're a veteran, you can go to the veteran's agent in your town to see if they can help you. A lot of times your church will help you and sometimes your local oil company will carry you for a while if you've had a long history with them."