Jeannie Cullen Schultz has been preparing for years for the position she’s in now: leading one of Wisconsin’s largest construction firms.
Starting in 2017, Cullen Schultz and her brother, George Cullen, began getting ready to step in as co-presidents of the company, going through lengthy interviews. Then came the unexpected death of former JP Cullen President Ron Becher, accelerating those plans by about a year.
Cullen Schultz officially took over as co-president in 2020, making up part of the fifth generation of family owners to run the contractor.
“We still worked that plan,” she said. “It just happened a lot quicker. We’re fortunate that our fourth generation was still active in the business.”
As a basketball star in high school and college, Cullen Schultz initially wanted to become a coach. But she switched direction during graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, deciding to pursue construction instead.
After graduate school, she started her career at the HVAC contractor North American Mechanical, where she was introduced to the industry, performing work on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Centennial Hall.
Cullen Schultz later joined JP Cullen as a project manager and rose to become the company’s healthcare-division manager in 2013. She worked to extend JP Cullen’s presence in the health-care market in Dane County, taking charge of all aspects of the division and overseeing everything from business development to project completion.
There are many signs of her success. For one, the health-care division has gone from having a staff of five in 2013 to more than 30 now.
In her new role, Cullen Schultz continues to build the business, much as previous generations of Cullens had done before her.
“I overall feel very fortunate for the position that we’re in,” Cullen Schultz said. “We have a strong foundation given that we’re 130 years old. We’re just really trying to make JP Cullen better than it was in the previous generation.”