Nelson Electric's tradition of good service at fair prices began in 1908. Electricity was becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity for business and industry wanting to grow and for residential areas to improve the quality of life. When the Ames power plant could no longer keep up with the demands from residents and commercial enterprises for electrical contracting services, young entrepreneur C.B. "Ben" Nelson took a risk, leaving his job at the plant to establish his own business, Nelson Electric Company.

Ben Nelson and a few workers went out with wagons and carts pushing their materials up and down Main Street, where the office was located. Ben and his son Chuck worked in the private enterprise for more than 40 years, surviving the Great Depression, a difficult time for businesses anywhere. When Ben could no longer walk to the office, the book-keeping was brought to him at his home. After Ben’s death in 1961, the company moved from its garage office at 816 Clark down the street to 116 Clark where it remained for the next thirty years.

Chuck Nelson became well-known and respected in the community as the electrical company expanded from a three-person shop to ten employees. Chuck was customer-oriented and business continued to thrive under his leadership. His civic duties and community support provided for even more growth opportunities.

Ben’s grandsons, Jerry and Paul Nelson, became involved in the company in the 1960’s.

In 1989, Chuck retired and turned over management to Jerry and Paul. Expansion followed and in 1996 the company relocated to 239 South Bell Avenue in the Ames Community Development Park.

Nelson Electric celebrated its 100th year in business in 2008. That same year Chris Nelson, fourth generation family member and Jerry's son, joined the business after 10 years in general contracting.

In the fall of 2009, Nelson Electric opened its first location outside of central Iowa - a branch office in Waterloo, Iowa to serve the Cedar Valley area.  The Carroll, Iowa office was opened in 2011 to serve Western Iowa.