Welding things together is an apt metaphor for what Nick Helstad does.
As president/estimator at Nick’s Welding & Fabricating, Inc., it’s also precisely what he does on a daily basis: Joining together various pieces to make an overall whole.
If he’s seen his business grow beyond his wildest expectations, it’s in part because of his drive to succeed. Pride is part of what motivates Helstad, as well as the desire to do a little better as each year passes. His principles are also important to him.
“What motivates me to get up every morning to go to work early, and work late, is the ability that we have in this country to be, and do, whatever you want to be, if you work hard and put in the effort and time,” he said. “I have chosen to give 110 percent, and try to be successful at what I do for my job, (at) what my company does in its productivity of work and quality of work. I am also motivated to make sure that the employees that work for me are successful, by giving them the training and tools they need for them to do the work that they need to do, and have a successful career, and are rewarded for their skilled work and dedication.”
His company employs about 30 people, and it does annual sales pushing $10 million. It’s been successful enough to rebuild its shop several times, and the current expansion will net the company 33,000 square feet of shop and office space. It’s been a long journey for Helstad, who began on his own, doing only a fraction of the work he now does when he started in 2000.
“I enjoy the daily challenges of running a successful business,” he said. “Quoting new jobs, getting jobs, submitting shop drawings for approval, fabricating jobs that are challenging, getting jobs delivered on time, managing employees, keeping our equipment, trucks and shop running.”
It’s that kind of dedication that led his mother, Gloria, among others, to support his nomination for Rising Stars Under 40.
“He grew up on a hog farm in Jackson County where he developed a strong work ethic,” Gloria said. “He was mechanically inclined and liked to fix all types of equipment.”
Helstad was recognized for his welding abilities in high school, and he went on to earn an American degree at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky. He graduated with high honors from Western Technical College, where he was also selected to participate in the Wisconsin VICA competition (he placed second). His list of projects, once he began his now-burgeoning business, is extensive: Barnes & Noble in La Crosse, Skyline Golf Course in Black River Falls, the campuses of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Winona State University and Western, the Lunda Community Center in Black River Falls, and many area schools, among others.
His wife, Lesley, works alongside him, as treasurer and vice president of the company, and also helps Helstad take his commitment out into the community, providing opportunities for students to job shadow, remaining supportive to both 4-H and FFA, and giving time, space and support to many community activities.
“Don’t quit chasing your ambitions and dreams,” Helstad said. “You just never know.”