Cunningham Oil is celebrating 90 years.
Stacy Cunningham Welch remembers her dad working until midnight in the late 1970s, driving his truck and delivering fuel oil to customers around the area to make sure no one was cold that night.
“He loved it,” she said recently.
That was when Welch was a young girl, and she’s now president of the company, which is currently celebrating its 90th year in business.
There is very little demand for fuel oil these days, but Cunningham trucks travel the roads installing and servicing heating and air conditioning units. When Welch was being trained by her dad, she rode on the trucks.
“He sent me out with every technician and every installer to understand their skill sets and responsibilities,” she said.
Ucal Cunningham founded the business in 1928 and served as mayor of Daytona Beach at one time. He later sold the company to his son, Gary Cunningham. Stacy Welch’s parents, Lee and Patricia Culler, bought the company in 1969 from Gary Cunningham, Lee’s uncle.
Welch’s dad died in 2012 and her mother, Patricia, now owns the business.
Welch remembers things her dad taught her.
“Always listen to and value your employees,” she said she remember him saying.
The company prides itself on having many long-term employees.
To celebrate the 90-year-annivesary, the company is taking all employees and a guest on a cruise later this year.
“I think my dad would be proud to see our group all together as one celebrating,” Welch said.
He also emphasized customer service, Welch said, which she continues today.
“I think my dad would be proud to see our group all together as one celebrating.”
STACY CUNNINGHAM WELCH, president, Cunningham Oil
Welch was working as a teacher before getting involved in the family business. She had taught in North Carolina, and at St. James and St. Brendan’s in Ormond Beach. In 2008, she noted that her parents were getting older.
“They had always said I was welcome to join the business,” she said. “I just felt it was time to get involved in the family business.”
The economic recession was in effect at the time, but Welch said she just thought it was normal.
“Now I look back and see it was a tougher time,” she said.
She thinks learning in a tough environment was a valuable experience.
For those in the market for heat and air conditioning, Welch emphasizes that it’s an important investment, similar to a roof. Units are getting a lot more efficient, and the right model can save the customer money in energy costs. Be sure to talk to experts and get the right size and model, she said.
The company, located at 400 Carswell Ave., also sells propane. Visit cunninghamoil.com.