Ferguson Fuels: family-run, with customers at its heart

Ferguson Fuels has operated as a family-run fuel business in Northern Ireland for over 50 years.

Ferguson Fuels

Claudia Weeks, Community Content Lead for Fuel Oil News spoke with Clark Hamilton, Yard Manager and family member, to find out more about this dedicated distributor and how the business has changed since it was founded.

“Based on the Derry/Donegal border in Northern Ireland, Ferguson Fuels has been operating since 1968, providing fuel to the North-West area of Northern Ireland and beyond,” Clark begins.

“My Grandfather, Patrick (Patsy) Ferguson started the business, originally supplying coal to homes within the local Derry City area. A few years later artics were added to the fleet to undertake fridge work within the UK and Europe as well as covering general haulage of fertiliser, bulk coal, and pallet loads.

“This initial expansion continued, and grew rapidly, as the business added fuel oil distribution to its services in 1989.”

Energy diversification

In a clear indication that energy transition is nothing new, Clark explains how Ferguson Fuels adapted to a diminishing demand for coal: “A steadily reducing demand for coal was met by an increase in the need for oil from our customers to fuel their home heating,” he shares.

Initially supplying the North West, the demand for heating oil grew rapidly, and coverage was soon extended, with Co. Donegal and Inishowen added in 2000. Despite the rapid growth in fuel distribution, the company continued to provide its original services.

“We continued to provide general haulage services to companies throughout Northern Ireland for many years, before focusing solely on fuel haulage in 2000. Our iconic blue and yellow lorries are easily recognisable as they travel the roads, supplying our own depots, as well as the companies we provide fuel haulage for.”

In the family

As for Clark’s own journey: “I have been working with the business officially since 1998, however, as a young child, I spent many afternoons after school helping in the yard.

“All of my childhood memories involve the business in some way. My typical working day involves a wide variety of work – I am hands on delivering oil to customer homes and our

own depots as well as dealing with all the other elements involved in running a family business.”

A reflection of the importance of relationships in the close-knit communities served by Ferguson Fuels, the customers appreciate the dedication of this family-run company: “We have built up a loyal customer base with generations of the same families using us for their fuel needs,” Clark explains – this long-standing relationship clearly very important to him.

“Our reputation has always been high, and this has stood us in good stead throughout the years and continues to do so. Business is still growing within the Co. Donegal area, and we appreciate each, and every, order our customers place with us.”

Award success

With a need to reach new customers in hard to access locations, Ferguson Fuels took delivery of a new DAF mini tanker in 2023, and Clark shared the delight of the team in seeing their prized fleet addition featured as a runner up in this year’s Fuel Oil News Tanker of the Year awards.

“We are proud to have been awarded Runner Up in the Tanker of the Year 2023 awards. We are delighted with this, our newest truck in the fleet, from Morrow Tankers, Lisburn. Since the truck has gone to work it has fulfilled all the reasons that we purchased it for – easily navigating narrow roads with great manoeuvrability – and its new Tex metering system from Alpeco makes it very easy to set up the delivery.”

In fact, Ferguson Fuels has been so happy with their award-winning tanker that they have recently placed another order with Morrow Tankers. “This time it’s for an 18-tonne tanker,” Clark shares, before adding: “We look forward to welcoming it later this year and entering it into the Tanker of the Year 2024 Awards!

This is not the first time the arrival of a new truck has had a significant impact on the company as Clark explains: “The arrival of our Mercedes Benz tractor unit V8 1850 LS in 1992 – the first 500 horsepower Mercedes truck in the UK – is one of my favourite memories of our family business. I was only 10 years old at the time and I remember the excitement among the drivers for it coming into the fleet.”

What of Ferguson’s future?

It seems it is not just award success that the business is hoping for in the future. “Ferguson Fuels is now a third-generation family business,” Clark explains, “with the fourth generation already showing an interest by helping on Saturdays and in the school holidays.

“There are, currently, six family members involved in the day-to-day running of the business. Three of these are office based and three are in the driving seat.

“We employ twelve staff, several of whom have over 30 years of dedicated service with us. From this strong base, we hope to further develop the business going forward and to continue to supply our loyal customer base with their fuel needs.”

Fuel needs that continue to evolve, as Clark acknowledges: “The biggest change to our business has been the introduction of mains gas piped throughout Northern Ireland. We rely now, more than ever, on loyalty from our customers in the rural areas of the North West and Co. Donegal who continue to rely on us to meet their home heating needs.”


This change in domestic energy is not the only challenge being addressed by Ferguson Fuels.

“Fuel poverty has been the biggest challenge for our consumers in many years,” stresses Clark. “We find our customers are placing orders for smaller volumes of fuel on a more frequent basis. The cost-of-living crisis continues to affect many homes.

It is an issue that troubles Clark, especially with the close relationship Ferguson Fuels has with its customers, but it also highlights what he values most about working in fuel distribution: “The most rewarding element of the job for me is building a connection with our customers who trust us as their first choice to supply their fuel.”

Keeping the customer at the heart clearly matters to Clark and the team, and has been entrenched in the business from the start. “My Grandfather Patsy said to me to always treat a customer how I would like to be treated myself. That has stuck with me throughout my interactions with every customer and is the best bit of advice I have ever been given.”

Looking forward

As Clark looks to the future, these strong foundations feature prominently in his vision for the company as it continues to move forward.

“We wish to keep building upon the business my grandfather started over 50 years ago by continuing to provide a high quality, friendly and reliable fuel delivery service.

“I would like the fourth generation to continue on with the family business, and I hope that my own two sons will carry on my grandfather’s legacy.”

Fuel Oil News hopes to be seeing the business through their eyes in future years.

Image credit: Ferguson Fuels