H. R. Clough, Inc. has a long and impressive story within New Hampshire's heating fuel industry. Founded in 1939 as a division of Sawyer Coal Company in Contoocook, NH, Harold Clough started by purchasing a kerosene business from G. Miles Ward. H. R. Clough concentrated on delivering kerosene for in-home heaters as they were the popular source of home heating in the New England area at the time. The company prospered in its early years, but it became apparent after just a few short years that the business was mostly seasonal. To supplement his income, Harold started a funeral home and additionally began providing basic burner repair service.
In the 1940's methods of heating homes and businesses began to change with improved technology. The industry saw the introduction of "complete heating systems". Such systems included heat in every room of a house plus running hot water. This type of system centered on the installation of heating oil tanks either in-ground or in the cellar, with piping directly into the furnace or boiler. Harold Clough made the changes necessary to keep up with the growing needs of his customers, namely direct distribution of heating oil which replaced kerosene as the preferable fuel for heating homes.
In the mid 1960's H. R. Clough expanded further by providing full heating system service as well. 1967 was a banner year as the company became incorporated as a result of its growing size and increased services. Harold's daughter, Marilyn, who had worked at billing and other office tasks, now faced the challenge of talking full responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the company as her father grew older and less able to participate in the business.
Marilyn's husband Bob Davis began working at the company in 1968 and assumed responsibility for managing the service and delivery departments of the company. During the late 1960's and early 1970's H.R. Clough began to build a large customer base and establish a well-known reputation in the area for caring about its customers and meeting their needs. Bob and Marilyn realized they needed to purchase another oil truck to keep up with the demand being placed on them as more people opted to heat their homes with oil. In 1972 Henniker Fuel Company was purchased, allowing the company to branch out into Henniker and Weare. By the early 1980's, H.R. Clough saw not only significant growth in its customer base, but also an increasing number of heating system installations, plus the the addition of heavy lubricant sales and increased wholesale fuel and gasoline sales.
"Wow'em with our Service"
The 1990's brought about a "changing of the guard" at the company when Alan Davis (son of Bob and Marilyn) the company's current president, took over all of the daily operations. Alan's wife Susan also came on board to help smooth the transition of Marilyn and Bob's impending retirement.
Alan and Susan, decided to adapt the business to increased levels of year-round operation in order to eliminate the difficulties of staffing full-time employees into a company that experienced a huge lag in the summer season. The company had a strong flow of income coming in from year to year but had never experienced rapid change or growth. What they decided to do was change the focus of the business to not just providing oil for heating purposes, but providing all the services that go along with heating and cooling a home. The goal was not to just increase the amount of work that the company did, but to increase the quality of work the company provided. Customer satisfaction was their main focus and what they hoped their company's name would be associated with in the eyes of the customers. This became known as the "Wow'em with our service" attitude toward providing excellent customer service at H.R. Clough. Additions in the size and quality of the staff helped to ensure smooth growth.
In addition to providing installation of complete heating and air conditioning systems, the company added other customer conveniences such as the Energy Card System, and propane and kerosene filling stations. The Energy Card System consists of 24-hour gasoline and diesel pumps operated by the customer using a specially coded card, much like a credit card. The customers are then billed for their fuel purchases once a month.
1994 brought with it a doubling of the company's customer base while tripling its actual service area. All of this came about with Alan's purchase of Kearsarge Heating Oils of Warner, NH. The increased size gave Clough a chance to grow in the marketplace and become competitive in different fields of the industry. The dedication and diligence of Kearsarge Heating Oils' hard-working staff made them a great addition to H.R. Clough, Inc.
In the past year, H. R. Clough has recommitted themselves to providing the highest quality service system, delivery and customer service, by introducing Service Plus. Service Plus is a combined effort of the management, delivery and service teams to constantly excel in all levels of service by setting goals and trying to exceed them. To assist all employees in meeting these goals, continuing training is provided, both in-house and through educational facilities throughout New England.
H. R. Clough, Inc. is one of the premier oil heat companies in New Hampshire today thanks to a wonderful and loyal customer base, and through the hard work of its dedicated staff spanning sixty years and four generations.