Construction Co. Celebrates 50 Years of Building Excellence

Rick McCartney

For five decades, Agate Construction has remained a cornerstone of excellence in the construction industry. Since its humble beginnings as an agricultural construction company, Agate has grown into a respected leader, maintaining an unrivaled reputation for high-quality construction projects and a devoted commitment to innovation, safety and customer satisfaction.

As a full-service general contractor, design builder and construction manager, Agate collaborates with clients, trade partners and design teams on a wide range of commercial projects, including private development, industrial, public works, tenant improvements, retail, aviation, manufacturing, automotive and mining infrastructure.

With more than 2,000 successfully completed projects valued at over $1 billion across the nation and the globe, Agate’s team of dedicated professionals combine expertise, ingenuity and a client-centric approach to projects that redefine industry standards.

In 1973, decorated Vietnam War veteran Jim Uhl founded agricultural construction company Agro Construction on the Salt River Maricopa Pima Indian Community. Over the next 15 years, Uhl transformed Agro into a multifaceted contractor specializing in concrete, steel, pre-engineered metal building and earthwork. As Agro expanded into new markets, Uhl rebranded the company as Agate Inc., establishing its reputation as a premier general contractor.

While Uhl built his company, a young Lou Primak, then studying at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Del E. Webb School of Construction, joined Agate as an intern and launched his construction career under Uhl’s mentorship. Over the next 30 years, Primak honed his expertise on Agate’s major construction projects. He advanced from project manager and estimator to leadership positions, including vice president, regional director and operations manager.

In 2014, after successfully leading Agate for 45 years, Uhl began transitioning ownership to Primak and Rick Nichols. Friends since their days at Chandler High School and ASU, both proved integral to Agate’s evolution. Uhl’s commitment to the company’s legacy and its team were evident in the careful planning and execution of his succession plan. With Uhl’s support and guidance, Primak and Nichols positioned Agate for ongoing success.

The company’s culture, rooted in Uhl’s Marine Corps values of determination, discipline, pride and integrity, ensures Agate will deliver successful outcomes far into the future. Under Primak and Nichols’ leadership, Agate Construction, Agate Steel and Agate Concrete continue to thrive, maintaining a skilled team and executing projects safely and efficiently.

Guiding Agate’s Future with Innovation and Expertise

A seasoned industry professional, Primak capably helms Agate Construction as principal and COO. With 37 years of experience, Primak’s visionary leadership remains instrumental in upholding Agate’s reputation for delivering projects on time and within budget.

Primak has overseen hundreds of projects across diverse sectors, including federal, gaming, hospitality, education, health care and automotive retail. His notable projects include the Lakehouse condominiums in Denver, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Davidson Math and Science Center, and America West Arena in Phoenix. Primak’s expertise spans safety management, programming, design, field operations, preconstruction services, estimating, scheduling, procurement, project management and LEED certification. He holds a Bachelor of Science in building construction and has received accolades such as the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 and Nevada AGC’s Excellence in Project Management award. He serves as president of the Nevada Chapter of NAIOP and on the AGC board of directors.

Agate Construction maintains its mission to provide exceptional construction services exceeding client expectations. Committed to extending its legacy of excellence for the next 50 years and beyond, the company plans to expand its reach and continue delivering groundbreaking construction solutions.

Leveraging its team’s expertise, Agate now focuses on becoming the leading construction company in developing facilities for automotive manufacturing, maintenance, distribution and aviation infrastructure. Building on its proven track record, Agate stands poised to drive growth and innovation in these industries.

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