Bob Nowell emptied the clothes out of his closet. He and his wife Mary started the first sales from this very small “office”, while the yard and fence storage was in their basement. At age 16, their son Ken worked as a helper to Vernon Cook, an installer who lived with the Nowell family to save money. Twelve-year old Vince cut pipe and helped with the yard (or basement, in this case) duties, and sometimes helped with fence installations. Long after opening the business in their Belpre basement, and two or three locations later, Bob and Mary moved Alco Fence into their current commercial location in Vienna, WV
In the early 1980s, Bob decided to expand Alco to the Fairmont area because it was coal rich and growing quickly. Almost immediately after construction started on Alco Fence Company's Fairmont office
, the coal industry took a nose dive. The pressure on Bob Nowell was immense. On January 17, 1982 Bob Nowell died of a heart attack due to the stress — he was 53. Vince, Ken, Mary and Bobbie Nowell (Bob and Mary's daughter) were completely shocked and overwhelmingly saddened by his passing, but they had little time to grieve. Alco's many employees and their families depended on the survival of this, at the time, troubled company.