John "Ozzie" Nelson Jr.

Chairman and CEO

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John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr. is an accomplished global business leader who has demonstrated a commitment to the design industry and the community.  As Chairman & CEO of NELSON, Ozzie has guided the firm to unprecedented growth and an industry ranking as the third largest provider of design and design related services to corporate America. 

In 1987, immediately upon graduating from college with a degree in Business Administration, Ozzie joined his father’s 15-person interior design firm.  Over the following years, he integrated the core business of design with the emerging technology evolution and the consulting services required by the dramatically expanded size of corporate real estate portfolios to create a compelling service delivery platform.  Under Ozzie’s direction, the firm expanded from a single office, traditional design firm with a single core competency to its current state of 30+ locations serving clients globally and offering six fully integrated services.  His innovative approach to the business put Ozzie in high demand as a trusted consultant to clients and as a speaker for organizations including Design Colloquium, InterPlan, CoreNet, the AEC convention, NeoCon and the annual conference for the Internal Society of Facilities Executives.

Ozzie became CEO of NELSON in 2003.  Since then, under his leadership the firm has executed 17 merger/acquisitions, taking NELSON from the rank of #37 in the industry to “Top 10” with growth of more than 500 percent.  In 2007 The Zweig Letter identified NELSON as the “Fastest Rising Firm” based on percentage growth.  Today the firm is a key partner to top companies including Bank of America, Nielsen, Citibank, Google, Express Scripts, Astra Zeneca and Verizon.  In recent years he has led the formalization of several specialty practice areas including the legal workplace, financial spaces (corporate and retail) and advertising/media firms to name a few, and he has overseen mergers that have significantly expanded NELSON's architecture and design services for global academic environments.  Ozzie took over ownership and chairmanship of the firm in 2012.

Ozzie’s passion for growing the business is matched by his desire to serve as a mentor while continuing his own professional development.  He is a Trustee and two-time Board Chair of Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF), a non-profit organization that was recognized by Time magazine as “one of the Top 10 ways to give back.”  In addition, Ozzie has chaired the Young Presidents’ Organization’s (YPO) Twin Cities Chapter, is the chair of the Board of Trustees, Visitation School and a Co-Chair of the Heart Committee of the University of Minnesota's Medical Foundation. He resides in the Twin Cities but travels weekly to different client sites and NELSON locations.

Ozzie’s vision for the future of the industry, as well as his insights into what clients truly need from a strategic, creative and operational perspective, have positioned NELSON for continued growth and success. 

CREATING New Solutions

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Tactix retained NELSON to provide interior design services for their new location in Center City Philadelphia. The team worked closely with executives to develop new design solutions to fit their needs.



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Fieldglass commissioned NELSON to redesign space with a focus on the creation of a more collaborative work environment allowing for a more efficient workflow.

Fieldglass Inc

CREATING innovative design

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Capital One selected NELSON to help them design their Rolling Meadows location. The NELSON team worked with Capital One’s Design Team and Key Leaders to create their vision of an urban chic work environment.



Creating NEw Opportunities

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Effective November 1, 2016, AAI Design has merged operations with NELSON. The fourth merger on the west coast for NELSON, this deal brings the regional count to over 80 and brings the total number of west coast offices to five.



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NELSON announced its intent to launch TAMI (Technology, Advertising & Media, and Information Business) Practice Area. 


FOCUSING on music and design

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Looking for a fresh new concept that not only captured elements of the music industry but also the city of Minneapolis, Pandora Internet Radio turned to NELSON to provide interior design services for the renovation of their existing office in the IDS Tower.


creating design that "takes off" 

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Gogo commissioned NELSON to create a final workplace solution that would allow for aggressive growth and flexibility while considering new ways of working in a collaborative space.




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NELSON and Veenendaal Cave, Inc. Officially Join Operations, establish the Southeastearn USA as a “Super Region”.


NELSON and Veenendaal Cave, Inc. Join Operations