Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Empty Nest: Michael Mohrfeld, Electrician, Developer, Forward Thinker

By Curt Swarm

Success is a ladder, it cannot be climbed with your hands in your pockets

At the corner of 33rd St. and Bluff Road in the middle of Fort Madison, is a cornfield, or what used to be a cornfield.  Last year’s stubble is still showing.  Around the edges, new homes are going up on what is now Green Oak Development where, eventually, 52 energy-efficient homes will be situated.
When Michael Mohrfeld was 8 years old he observed and helped his father, Rich, construct a train engine for the Fort Madison Christmas Parade of Lights.  Rich Mohrfeld was a realtor and financial adviser with a farm background.  He was not an electrician or welder, but  got the magnificent job done anyway, by rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.  It was a pattern his son Michael would follow.
A naturally competitive person, Michael and his father raced go-carts all over the Midwest.  In high school, Michael knew he wanted to be in the trades.  Upon graduation, he enrolled in NE Community College and received an AA degree in science as an industrial electrician.  He came home to Fort Madison and went to work for a large electrical firm.  At the age of 21, Michael had his Master Electrician’s License.
When the firm he worked for pulled out of southeast Iowa, Michael seized the opportunity to start his own business.  In 2006 he started Mohrfeld Electric.  He wanted to do more than residential work, he wanted the big stuff, the commercial buildings, the hospitals, the industries, the restaurants.  It was the start of the recession.  Margins were tight, but Michael didn’t know any different.  Mohrfeld Electric now employs 40 to 50 electricians.
Michael had been hearing that FortMadison needed new housing, but nobody wanted to take the risk.  He was young enough and dumb enough to do just that.  Voila, Green Oak Development.  Michael Mohrfeld is the developer, which means he takes on all the infrastructure expenses like water, sewer, storm sewer, and paving.  Mohrfeld Electric oversees the construction of the homes, making sure everything flows together.  They start on  both ends of the street and work their way to the center.  It’s very methodical.  The homes are high-quality, energy-efficient homes, with full basements, R-23 insulation, and LED and solar options.  Reducing the homes’ carbon footprint is very important to Michael.
At 33, another passion of Michael’s is cleaning up the corridor, or the main drag through Ft. Madison.  There are a lot of dilapidated properties.  It’s one thing when it’s out of sight and out of mind, but when it’s right there for the public to see, it’s embarrassing.  A member of the Lee County Board of Economic Development, Michael both buys and fixes up old properties, and encourages other owners and the city, through forward-thinking plans, to do the same.  Michael is not a committee, or a sit-on-your-hands type of guy.  Like his father, he goes out and gets the job done.  He’s also working with the city to help make their parks more energy efficient.
His wife, Jillian, is the Main Street Director in Fort Madison.  With a degree in Marketing from Western Illinois University, she takes care of all Mohrfeld Electric’s marketing, including their Facebook page, which is where they get most of their traction and attention.  She’s created all of the marketing pieces and is a very key player in how to market homes.
Michael credits his success to the great people he has surrounding him.  He wants his associates to take ownership in the projects they are working on, to treat their work as if it’s their own business.  He’s a firm believer in, “if you put good people on the ground, you’ll get good results.”    
What’s in the future for Michael Mohrfeld?  In two years he’ll be done with Green Oak Development.  He may just need another development to work on.
Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.  Curt also reads his columns at www.lostlakeradio.com.