Build Rock Solid

James A. Quarve, P.E.

Co-Owner, President and Principal Engineer
James A. Quarve is the President and Principal Engineer for Agate. James has enjoyed a meteoric career as a Mining Engineer, Project Manager, Construction Estimator and for the past 20 years, owner and operator of Agate, a design-build general contracting and engineering firm specializing in structural repair and geotechnical construction.

James grew up in the construction industry, working for his grandfather’s mining and heavy construction business in high school and college. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Civil and Construction Engineering from Iowa State University in 1989, he was quickly hired by Opus Corporation to be a Field Engineer in Omaha, NE for the ConAgra Corporate Campus. He then joined AL Johnson Construction in 1991 to be a Field Engineer and Estimator, where his work included the estimating and initial set up of a $114M lock and dam in Coushatta, LA. Responsibilities included the design of the concrete and aggregate handling systems, batch water cooling systems and a nitrogen injection system for mass concrete pours, temporary dewatering systems and temporary electrical distribution.

He returned to his family’s construction business in Minnesota in 1993, where he was tasked in assisting with the transition of the family business to new owners. He continued with the new company, Mathy Construction, as a Project Manager, coordinating and selling projects in WI, IA, and MN. Annual sales of Asphalt exceeded 8 million tons and Mathy’s reputation for efficiency and quality was exemplary.

James was recruited by Phillips and Jordan Construction as an estimator in 1995 and moved to Knoxville, TN. In 1996, James made the decision to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and launched Agate, a company that began as a structural repair company and has grown into a full service design-build construction company that serves the southeastern United States. Never has Agate lost it’s founders focus on providing a truly engineered solution to any construction challenge. Since 1980 when designing and building an automated aggregate load out system for his grandfather, and constructing his first super insulated home as a club project in high school, until today, you can find James in the field demonstrating his signature hands on approach to designing and building his projects.

Melissa B. Wiseman-Quarve

Melissa B. Wiseman-Quarve became the co-owner of Agate in 2002. Agate is one of only a few woman-owned construction and engineering businesses in East Tennessee.
Melissa manages Agate’s day-to-day operations and serves as project manager for the company’s residential work, which includes the restoration of historic homes and structures. Melissa partners with owners every step of the way to give them the peace of mind that their project will be done right. When challenges arise, as they inherently do during a renovation, she works with Agate’s engineering team to develop solutions that retain or restore the original personality and glory of the structure.
Melissa has a personal passion for the work and art involved in restoring these historic treasures back to their original grandeur. Locally, she works closely with area artisans and Knox Heritage, a non-profit organization that is chartered by the State of Tennessee to preserve structures and places with historic or cultural significance in Knox County.
Before Melissa joined her husband, James Quarve, P.E., more than 10 years ago in owning and running the business, Melissa had an established career managing community programs in Illinois, Wisconsin and here in Tennessee that served youth and families. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Resources from the University of Arizona.
Melissa is a true believer in giving back to one’s community and has done this as a volunteer with Noah’s Ark, a no-kill animal shelter in Jefferson County and as a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee.
Melissa and James live on a farm in New Market, Tennessee. Melissa is an avid cook and often caters for friends and family events. The family attends Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church and enjoys outdoor activities like boating and kayaking.

John P. Hayes

Operations Manager
John P. Hayes has joined Agate as the Operations Manager after experiencing great accomplishments as a construction company owner, mechanical engineer, project and program manager, and military officer. John completed his degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and then completed a degree in Datametrics at the University of South Africa, before he joined Eskom, one of the largest power companies in the southern hemisphere, where he worked for the next 16 years. He rose quickly to supervisor of the Mechanical Maintenance Department of the Electricity Distribution Division that conducted all mechanical maintenance in the Western Cape region.
John left Eskom in 1998 and started his own construction company and enjoyed great success until 2009, when he immigrated to the United States. He was quickly hired by Americas Energy Company where he held multiple positions of increased responsibility, which culminated in his being appointed the Chairman of the Executive Committee and Secretary for Evans Coal Company.
John has now moved to the Knoxville area and has joined Agate as Operations Manager. John and his wife of 24 years, Melinda have three daughters.