National Small Business Week
The Nelson Company
Marvin (Pete) Nelson bought some machining equipment and set up shop in his garage in 1968 and then incorporated his business in 1972, taking rough metal castings from the local foundry and turning them into finished parts that would often be installed on agriculture equipment.
He did pretty well at his work and soon needed to expand, so in 1969 Pete moved his business to the old artesian ice plant at 607 West Grimes, a space now currently occupied by Paint-Line. By 1993 the business outgrew that location so once again the company moved, this time to an 88,000 square foot facility on Stone Avenue, where the business runs to this day. Currently, 45 employees staff two shifts. The company buys rough aluminum, ductile iron, and grey iron castings from places like the Faircast Foundry. The company then tools the rough castings into machined castings and sells them to companies like Case-New Holland where they are then shipped all over the world.
When Pete was ready to retire in 2000, he wanted to keep the company intact so he created an ESOP; an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which allowed the employees at the time to assume ownership of the company rather than selling to a larger company that might strip the business for its machinery and close the shop.
That business strategy worked well as demonstrated by the longevity of its employees. The newest President is no exception. Bob Bowman started with The Nelson Company as a machine operator at the age of eighteen. Clint Hardin, Vice-President of Operations, recalls telling young Bob in his first few years that “You’ll make a good employee someday, just not for us”. Bob is a stubborn guy and took that to heart. Now, 27 years later, Bob can say with earned pride that he is only the fifth President in the company’s history.
Bob and Clint, who both have 26 years of service, are joined on the senior management team by Rich Foreman, the Day Shift Supervisor with 37 years of service. David Waugh, who is Head of Maintenance, can boast 31 years in the plant. Quality Manager Jason Engle is approaching 20 years of service. The office team of Mindy Ferrel with 26 years and Cindy Merrill with 13 years, round out the business team.
Much of what the company does has changed little, although some changes include becoming ISO 9001 Certified in 2011. This certification is a world-wide standard administered by an international organization based in Switzerland and is recognized as a sign of quality by over a million organizations world-wide. In April of 2013, the company invested in a vertical lathe that could machine parts up to thirty-one inches in size and weigh as much as 1,000 pounds.
Another home-grown business that is standing the test of time, The Nelson Company continues to be a critical part of the manufacturing businesses that make up the Fairfield area.