You could say that Zoar Fulwilder was built to be a business owner. In fact, he was recently struck with the revelation that it’s been more than 20 years since he received his first W-2.
“I’ve been in business for myself for my adult life,” he says.
With a background in commercial real estate where he focused on budgeting and site location, in 2008, Fulwilder was presented with the opportunity to partner with his uncle to start Mavid Construction. Given the recession at that time, Fulwilder admits that “it wasn’t the greatest time to start a construction company, but it worked out.”
He bought out his uncle in 2012 and is now the sole managing member of Mavid Construction, which does commercial interiors for a variety of projects. “In the simplest terms, we do everything from the ceilings down to the floors,” Fulwilder says.
Fulwilder is proud of his business accomplishments, but being a successful, Native American-owned company is toward the top of the list. Headquartered in Green Bay, Mavid Construction has done work for 10 of the 11 Native American tribes in Wisconsin. And, as part of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community himself, Fulwilder honors his heritage with the name of the company. “Mavid means mountain lion in the Pima language,” he says.
Much like the mountain lion, Mavid Construction is agile, having worked on an assortment of projects that require keen attention to detail, adherence to strict timelines and a high level of customer service.
Fulwilder calls out the Ho-Chunk Casino in Wisconsin Dells as one recent project that showcases Mavid Construction’s quality of work in all these areas.
“We had all of our divisions on the same project,” he says. “We did great with the schedule, and we were working in a live casino. That meant we had to take extra special steps to make sure that customers were satisfied. There’s also a lot of really unique features in the casino that helped our employees showcase their trade skills.”
But it’s exactly those types of difficult projects where Mavid Construction thrives. Whether it’s Lambeau Field, a casino, a university or a state project, Fulwilder says the team’s ability to communicate successfully and honor the rigid timeline is a big part of what has set the company apart in an otherwise competitive industry.
“All of these customers have hard deadlines. There’s a date on the ticket, and there’s no postponing,” he says. “Most of them are driven by revenue, so when they’re shut down, they’re losing money. We have to respect those hard deadlines.”
As a result of Mavid Construction’s success with these types of projects, Fulwilder is exploring moving into more work in the health care industry.
“There’s a lot of complex projects where the trades need to work together to adhere to the high quality standards that are placed on contractors,” he says. “Because we can handle all interior divisions in-house and have established lines of communications between our divisions, I think we’re built for that complex work in the health care field.”
To pull that off, Fulwilder knows he needs to continue to build and foster his team of employees — something he’s focused on continuously. Mavid Construction typically has between 70 and 80 employees working at any given time but is “constantly looking to recruit, train and retain,” Fulwilder says.
While he admits hiring can be a challenge for any business owner, he says it’s also one of the most rewarding parts of the job, particularly when he’s able to hire and retain other tribal members.
“We get a lot of people who might be getting their first job right out of high school,” he says. “To watch them go in and get the training, and then a year later be buying a house, getting a new car or really getting started in their career — that really means a lot to me.