Hobby becomes business for 80-year-old Ellendale resident

Cynthia and Russ Nelson have called Ellendale home since 1964. The couple, pictured above, married in 1965. Photo of the starry eagle by Eli Lutgens


If the name Russ Nelson means anything to you, you are probably from the NRHEG area. Known for his previous business, Russ Nelson Electric, Nelson has opened a new store. Russ Nelson Motor Shop is located at 601 Dutton Avenue in Ellendale, right next to the Methodist Church on Water Tower Road.

What started as a side project has now become a business for Nelson, 80, who said retirement just wasn’t close to his heart.

“It started as a hobby 15 years ago,” Nelson explained. “I retired in 2018, but people kept bringing me stuff to work on.”

Nelson, who ran Nelson Electric from 1974 to 2016, plans to continue repairing all types of electric motors. “I repair anything related to grain systems, livestock systems, basically all electric motors,” Nelson said. “Anything mechanical, I like to do.”

Most of Nelson’s projects are aimed at local farmers and, in his words, “everyone in the area.” Some of these motors go into augers, fans, or various ventilation systems.

Nelson says electronic motors haven’t changed much in 15 years, and neither has his motto.

“I’ve worked on a few old engines and they really haven’t changed much,” Nelson said. His motto is: “Work hard and treat your customers the way you want to be treated”.

Nelson’s interest in mechanics, motors, and electrical repair began when he attended Mankato Vocation College in 1962. After six months, he changed his studies to electronic repair. In 1964 he started working for Gordon Electric in Owatonna, which brought him to Ellendale, where he has lived ever since.

In 1965 he married his wife, Cythnia, and together they raised two children, Todd and Matthew. Ellendale residents may recognize Cynthia for her work with the local garden and Ellendale area food platter. As for their boys, Todd inherited his father’s electrical genes and works as an electrical contractor in Rochester.

For nine years, Nelson worked as a contractor for various electric companies before opening Russ Nelson Electric in 1974, which he operated until he sold the business in 2016.

His new business, which started just over a month ago, is doing well according to Nelson.

Anyone interested in or in need of electric motor services, including repair and replacement, can contact Russ anytime at 507-473-0513 or 507-444-5018.

Daniel C. Williams