The 2014 Family Business Awards: Best Practices Award



Nelson Electric


Not content with being a subcontractor on projects planned and managed by others, Marvin Nelson, president of Nelson Electric, has overseen a transition of the 63-year-old firm to one with a design-build, team approach to facilities design and construction. Retaining experienced and knowledgeable employees during the recession was also a key strategy: Nelson Electric used the state’s job-sharing program so that employees could still receive income and benefits, and returned them to full-time employment as the economy improved. Nelson Electric’s service business is also growing with a portfolio of buildings maintained. Today, the company is debt free and has the strongest construction backlog in its history. Members of the Nelson family are closely involved. If they’re shareholders, they have to be working in the business; passive ownership isn’t permitted. Founded in 1951 by Lyle Nelson, the firm is solidly ensconced as one of the leading unionized commercial electrical contractors in the Puget Sound region. Its fingerprints are on many iconic structures in the area, from the Space Needle and the Museum of History and Industry to Starbucks Center, Stadium Place and Doug Aitken’s Mirror installation at the Seattle Art Museum. With annual revenues nearing $23 million and its employee count topping 100, Marvin Nelson says the firm is “confident about its near-term growth and enthusiastic about its long-term future.” 

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