Growing up in a family business, you learn a lot of things. That success comes with hard work and sacrifice. That honesty is truly the best policy. That the smooth cement floors of a warehouse are perfect for roller skating and pallet racks make great hiding places. And, as you grow older, to be grateful that your great-grandparents, grandparents and parents had the foresight and gumption to fulfill a needed industry-service while providing for employees, the community and the family.
My grandfather and Nelson-Jameson’s co-founder, Earl Nelson, passed away just over a month ago. Three people were asked to eulogize different aspects of his life at the funeral. Nelson-Jameson’s President, Jerry Lippert, spoke about Earl’s business acumen and industrial contributions. Andy Keogh, the former Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Wood County, remembered his community and philanthropic involvement. And I, his eldest grandchild, spoke about the grandfather that I knew—the man who treated his grandchildren to the Ice Capades, but required that they spell “Nelson-Jameson” correctly in order to attend.
Earl Nelson was a forthright, driven, moral man. He had a certain gravitas that comes with an inherent sense of responsibility and duty—duty to his family, his business, his community and his faith. His work ethic was strong, his thinking pragmatic, and his need to help others genuine. It was those qualities that led him to co-found Nelson-Jameson, Inc. in 1947 with his father, T.C. Nelson. Beginning as a small dairy supply company and eventually developing into a wide-line distributor to the sanitary processing industry, my grandfather often said that Nelson-Jameson was like a bumble bee—not engineered to fly, but somehow still did. In fact, it has soared beyond expectation for over 65 years. Nelson-Jameson has become a well-known leader in the food processing industry, doing business in almost 30 different countries in 2013.
My grandfather has long since retired from Nelson-Jameson, but his memory and leadership lives on in countless ways. Nelson-Jameson’s corporate credo of “A Golden Rule Company” was authored by Earl, and continues to be intrinsically woven into the fabric of our company culture. Like him, we believe that a business can be a force for good in the community. Nelson-Jameson’s Chairman, my father John, recently elaborated on this philosophy. When thanking our employees for the outpouring of love and support we received after Earl’s passing, he wrote, “In manifold ways our community and world are better off for Earl having been among us…We the survivors now have the challenge of continuing to do good in the world. Our family will carry on (this) legacy to the best of our ability, as I know you (all) will.”
Nelson-Jameson is just one of my grandfather’s many legacies, but probably the single-most impactful one to my immediate family. Through hard work, diligent decisions and great people, it will continue to do good and be the legacy of generations to come. Thank you, Grandpa.
In loving memory of Earl W. Nelson, 1921-2014. The Nelson family continues active involvement in Nelson-Jameson, Inc.: Author Amanda Sasse is currently the Manager of Web Marketing & Strategic Relationships, her father John Nelson is Chairman, and her brother Adam Nelson is Vice President of Technology. In addition, Amanda’s husband, Scott Sasse, recently joined Nelson-Jameson as the Manager of Business Development.