John "Ozzie" Nelson Jr.
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.