Brian Welling, Fulda Electric Service
For this month’s Member Spotlight, we feature Brian Welling of Fulda Electric Service Inc. 2021 marks the shop’s 50th year in business and 50th year as an Electrical Association member!
The company was founded in 1971 by Don Welling, Brian’s father, in the Southwestern Minnesota town of Fulda. Business expanded from primarily farm and residential work to include more commercial jobs, and by the early 90s, the shop had expanded into South Dakota, purchasing a warehouse site in the town of Brandon.
Growing up in the family business, along with several other siblings, Brian was quick to learn the skills of the trade and business operations. By 2005, he was able to realize his lifelong goal and purchased the business from his father.
The main office for Fulda Electric is now in Brandon, SD with a second location in Jackson, MN to better serve the customers in that area. Brian’s wife, Donna, has been actively involved in the business since 2004. Both of them were nice enough to share their time with us today.
Brian, tell us about the early days growing up in the family business. Did you always want to be an electrician?
I’d see my dad go to work every day and think, “Maybe this is something I’d want to do.” I started working with him for the summer months at the age of 13.
The first week I started, I got $1 a day! It cost me more to eat my lunch than what I made in a day, so I had to get a raise to $5 a day. That seemed like a lot of money back then. I worked summers until I graduated, then I started full time.
Being the boss’s kid, everybody thinks it’s an easy job—but let me tell you, you have to work twice as hard being the boss’s kid, and I’m not joking. And when you own your own company, it’s the same way.
Donna, how did you become involved with the business?
I started working for Fulda a month before we got married, and I still decided to go through with it! I was too new and didn’t know what I was getting into yet. LOL! For the last 16 years, I’ve been by Brian’s side, managing the office and day-to-day operations.
Brian, as a past Chairman of the Board, what do you value most about the Electrical Association?
The staff at the Association has always been very helpful. We’ve done a lot of training with the Association, whether it be code or 70E safety training. Some of my guys have licenses in five states, and the best thing about it is, we can get it all knocked out (multiple state CE) in just two days at the Worthington class, and the price is very affordable.
As Chair, I built a lot of relationships with other contractors. Talking to these other guys, we’d share ideas about certain jobs with one another, and one of us would say, “Hey, can you come and help me for a couple of weeks?” So it was a great thing. To this day, we still help out fellow contractors when needed.
Fulda Electric is celebrating 50 years in business. How have you remained successful for all these years?
You have to work hard, and as the boss, you can never have the attitude of being too good to do the work. If an extra hand is needed pulling wire, I’ll go out and pull wire. You get what you put into it. You have to show your employees that you’re willing to give it 110% and that you expect them to do the same.
And remember to show appreciation for your employees, because without them, the company wouldn’t be here!