AGM Container Controls, Inc. (AGM) has been a leader in the design and manufacturing of environmental control hardware for more than six decades. AGM evolved over the years from their parent company, Arizona Gear & Manufacturing, which, in 1955, was the first company to design breather valves for Hughes Aircraft’s missile container.
In 1960, Roger K. Stewart and Joyce C. Stewart, of Los Angeles, California, owners of Aztec, Inc. began representing Arizona Gear nationally. In 1969, Roger arranged for Arizona Gear to buy Cargo-Ties, Inc., a small Wisconsin company Aztec had been representing since 1968. With this new acquisition, the manufacturing of tie downs was relocated to Arizona Gear’s headquarters in Tucson, Arizona.
In 1970, Roger and Joyce moved to Tucson, Arizona, to take over Arizona Gear’s military packaging and tie downs operations, thus forming a new company called “AGM Cargo-Ties, Inc.” During the 1970s, the company gradually expanded its business and product offerings, as well as constructing a new office building.
During the 1980s, AGM achieved its 10th Anniversary, expanded the office building and added a new warehouse, and in 1982, the company was renamed to “AGM Container Controls, Inc. (AGM)” to reflect more accurately the range of product offerings. In 1988, AGM became an Employee Stock Ownership Company (ESOP), and the following year AGM employees became owners through the ESOP plan.
The 1990s Joyce C. Stewart became President and Roger K. Stewart was named Chairman of the Board. AGM ventured into manufacturing portable wheelchair lifts, and formed a division of AGM called Ascension. In 1998, AGM was expanded once more to include a new building for welding and assembly of the wheelchair lift, as well as an enlarged machine shop.
By 2001, Roger K. Stewart and Joyce C. Stewart officially stepped away from the daily operations of AGM, and their son Howard N. Stewart was named President and Chairman of the Board of AGM.
In 2002, AGM became certified to ISO 9001:2000 standards, and has continually maintained such status. In late 2014, a momentous occasion occurred, when AGM became ISO 9001:2008/AS9100 Registered, the foremost quality standard for companies in the worldwide aerospace industry. AGM’s AS9100 registration was a validation of AGM’s 44-year commitment to quality, while further cementing AGM’s place in the industry as a trustworthy supplier of products that ultimately affect the safety and livelihood of warfighters and other aerospace personnel.
Over the past decades, AGM has continually increased business through new product development and distribution partnerships, which enable AGM to supply solutions to a variety of industries. AGM has also been recognized for numerous company and individual achievement awards, both at a local and national level. In 2009, AGM was recognized with the national U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “America’s Best Small Business of the Year” award.
Howard N. Stewart, President/CEO
Born in Hollywood, California, Howard is the youngest of three children and the only son of Joyce and Roger Stewart, AGM's Founders. His parents moved the family to Tucson in 1970 to start AGM. Howard started working at AGM in 1971, during his teenage years.
In 1981, he received his Bachelors in Political Science from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. He then interned for the Christian Science Monitor in Boston before joining the Peace Corps in Kenya. Thereafter, he became a stockbroker for Dean-Witter/Reynolds in Tucson. In 1984, Howard opened two ice cream stores, one in Tucson and another in Tempe. He successfully ran these stores for five years, as exemplified by the fact that his Tucson store was voted “Best Ice Cream in Tucson” all five years that this store was open.
Howard began his career as AGM’s Purchasing Assistant in 1989. In 1990, he was promoted to Sales Engineer and two years later he was promoted to Vice President of Marketing. In 1997, he was named Executive Vice President. In 2000, he was named AGM's President/CEO.
Howard was married to Beth Nebel Stewart, his wife of 18 years, from 1987 to 2005. Beth passed away in 2005. Beth also worked at AGM from 1998 to 2004.
Howard has two sons, Clayton, 23, and Russell, 21. Clayton currently works at AGM as a Programmer.
Howard is an avid cyclist and enjoys participating in road bike races and mountain bike activities. He also enjoys hiking, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, with friends in 2011. In addition, in 2013, he was recognized as the “Top Silver Male” at the Southern Arizona “Cactus Classic.” Finally, he and his dance partner, Kristé Belt, provided a special guest performance at the American Heart and Stroke Association's "Heart and Stroke Ball," on February 16, 2013.
Howard was an honoree at the 2015 American Heart Association Heart & Stroke Ball, talks about his personal story of surviving a heart attack.
Howard has been serving as the Educational Chair for the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Campaign Cabinet since 2012. He is also serving as a Member of the Board of Directors for the Tucson Metro Chamber, as well as a member of the President's Council for San Miguel High School.
To read Howard's full bio, click here.
Howard is available for speaking engagements in community organizations. If you're interested in having Howard speak at your event, please e-mail Tara Turek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ellen Howlett, Chief Financial Officer
Ellen Howlett attended Pima College and the University of Arizona, where she concentrated her studies in Accounting and Computer Science. This combination has given her a significant advantage as technology advances continue to interweave these two fields.
Prior to working at AGM, Ellen developed inventory, manufacturing and accounting software packages.
In 1986, Ellen was hired as a Contract Systems Analyst, where she was responsible for managing a team that was designing AGM’s Inventory Management Information System programs.
On June 1, 1988, Ellen officially joined AGM as their Management Information Systems Manager and was responsible for completing the design and writing of the computer programs, which was used for over 20 years.
In 1995, she joined AGM’s Board of Directors as AGM’s Secretary/Treasurer. For over 20 years, Ellen has watched AGM go through good times and bad times. She is excited to be part of a great management team as they continue looking towards continuing their unbelievable growth today and in the future.
Jim McCorry, Business Development Manager
Jim McCorry was born in Chicago, IL, and his family moved to Arizona in 1970.
Jim started at AGM in 1981 as a Shipping Clerk and has held a number of positions in his 30+ years with the company. Jim became AGM’s Sales Manager in 2000 and joined the AGM Board of Directors in 2001. He assumed his current role as Business Development Manager in 2008.
Jim is married and has two adult children. His pastimes include hiking and golfing.
Eric Zuercher, Vice President of Engineering
Eric Zuercher received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona.
Eric started at AGM in 1997 as a Design Engineer for the Ascension Product line. He became Senior Design Engineer in 2002, and expanded his focus to the AGM Product lines in 2004. He joined AGM’s Board of Directors in 2005 and assumed the role of Director of Design Engineering in 2006. In 2014, Eric was promoted to his current role as Vice President of Engineering.
Eric is married and has four young children. His pastimes include hiking, backpacking, and bicycling.
Pat Lane, Design Engineering Manager
Pat Lane received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona.
Pat started at AGM in 1999 as a Design Engineer for the AGM Product line. He became Senior Design Engineer in 2002. He joined AGM’s Board of Directors in 2005 and assumed his current role as AGM Design Engineering Manager in 2010.
Pat is married and has two daughters. His pastimes include volleyball, hiking, and bicycling.
Ron Corbin, Operations Manager
Ron Corbin was born in Goodyear, AZ.
Ron started at AGM in 1980 as machinist/production worker and held many positions during his 33 years with the company. He was Purchasing Manager for 10 years before becoming AGM’s Sales Manager in 2008. Ron assumed his current position as Operations Manager in 2012.
Ron is married and has two adult children. He is a car enthusiast and also enjoys hiking, camping, and boating.
Blake Koomar, Sales Manager
Blake Koomar has worked continuously in the accessibility market since graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to holding the position of Sales Manager over the Ascension wheelchair lift product line, Blake was one of the key Engineers who worked on the design of the Ascension Protégé wheelchair lift.
Blake’s wide product knowledge and superb customer service skills have helped Ascension earn an unparalleled reputation as one of world’s foremost ground-breaking companies in accessibility.
Tom Christie, Information Technology Manager
Tom Christie received a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona, a Masters of Divinity from The Master’s Seminary, and is on track to finish his Masters of Business Administration in Fall 2014.
Tom started at AGM in 2008 as a Manufacturing Engineer. Since then, he has worked in Ascension Design Engineering, and took a lead role in the development of AGM’s ERP System implementation in 2011.
On January 1, 2013, Tom was promoted to Information Technology Manager where he oversees AGM’s computer network, ERP systems, and website technology.
Tom is married and has three young children under five. His pastimes include board games and serving his church.
Gabriela Cervantes, Marketing Manager
Gabriela has over a decade of marketing experience and has worked in the manufacturing, retail, hospitality, arts and entertainment industries. Gabriela graduated cum laude in Marketing with an emphasis in International Business from the University of Arizona. She also earned her Masters in Business Administration from the U of A.
She is passionate about animals, the environment, women’s issues, and health education. She enjoys traveling and good food, preferably both at the same time.