For 115 years, the Nelson Electric Company has been providing electrical services to the Ames area. Today, the company is led by Chris and Matt Nelson, the fourth-generation brothers to operate the business.
At the turn of the century and the dawn of the electrical grid, the City of Ames Municipal Light Plant staff provided all of the electrical work across Ames. As the utility grew, the city realized the task was larger than they could handle and allowed private contractors to do the work.
C. B. (Ben) Nelson began contracting for electrical work in 1908 after having worked at the Ames Light Plant for several years as an electrician. He left his job at the power plant when he saw an opportunity to expand this new technology and bring its convenience to Ames’ residents.
An October 1909 announcement in the Ames Tribune noted that “Ben Nelson and Earl Moore will open a new plumbing and lighting shop,” that would come to be known as Nelson Electric Company. The business was originally located at 304 Main Street. Ben and a few employees traveled up and down Main Street moving their equipment in carts and wagons.
During the 1930’s depression era, the company moved to the garage behind Ben’s house on Clark Avenue as a cost savings measure. Ben and his son Chuck worked together until Ben’s passing in 1961. Around that same time, Chuck’s sons, Jerry and Paul, became involved in the business. Those two brothers took over the business in 1989.
In 1995, the company moved into their current 12,000 square foot building on South Bell. Over the years, the company has received some of the most prestigious awards in the electrical service business. Among them are the Better Business Integrity Award (utilizing ethical business practices ahead of profitability or popularity), Excellence in Merit Shop Construction Award, National STEP Safety Award (commitment to safety leadership and performance), and the Angie’s List Super Service Award.
After more than five decades of service to Nelson Electric, including serving as President since 1989, Jerry Nelson stepped back from his full-time leadership role in the company this spring and assumed the role of President Emeritus. His sons, Chris and Matt, assumed leadership of the company with Chris serving as President and Matt as Vice President.
The moves continue in the tradition of Nelson family ownership and leadership that dates back 115 years to 1908. Nelson Electric is thought to be the oldest business in Ames to be continuously operated under the ownership of the same family. They currently employ over 60 individuals and service over 1,400 work orders a year. They have provided electrical services to thousands of Ames residents and businesses, and along the way, have committed themselves to giving back to the community. Members of the Nelson family have engaged with numerous community organizations, including Lions Club, Kiwanis, Rotary, Ames Chamber of Commerce, Ames History Museum, and Mainstream Living, among others. From 2014-2020, Chris Nelson served on the Ames City Council.
Congratulations to Nelson Electric Company, and the Nelson family, for serving and positively impacting the Ames community for 115 years.
304 Main St.
Ames, Iowa 50010
Phone: (515) 232-2310
About the Ames Chamber
Centrally and conveniently located in the heart of the Midwest and Iowa, Ames is known for its healthy, stable economy, flourishing cultural environment, and the world-renowned Iowa State University.
With over 700 members, the Ames Chamber of Commerce strives to make Ames a better place to live, work, and do business by strengthening the economic vitality and the quality of life in the Ames community.