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‘It’s been a great ride': John Wright retires after storied 45-year career with Jacobsen

WRIGHT HONORED WITH RETIREMENT CELEBRATION AT THE HUNTSMAN CANCER INSTITUTE HE HELPED BUILD

SALT LAKE CITY — Overlooking the Salt Lake Valley from the Huntsman Cancer Institute he helped build, longtime project manager and Jacobsen Construction stalwart John Wright celebrated with family, friends and colleagues on Jan. 23 to cap off his 45 years of distinguished service with the company.

Wright’s retirement comes after nearly half a century shaping skylines and constructing Utah’s most noteworthy buildings with Jacobsen. Before ending his legendary journey with the 98-year-old company, Wright took time to thank all those he worked alongside.

“These friendships — with subcontractors, engineers, suppliers, architects — mean a lot to me. We’ve built some great, great buildings together,” Wright said with some emotion.

Wright’s career was defined by his unwavering commitment to exactness in quality, integrity, loyalty and professionalism, friends and colleagues say. He held himself to the same high standards in his personal life as a husband and father, said his wife Karma Wright.

“John Wright has every high expectations. He wants things done well; he wants things done the right way,” she said, joking that one might actually call it the Wright Way. “But behind that fierce, firm, stern exterior is a marshmallow center that he hides very well — and I credit my daughters for having enhanced that.”

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Before retiring, Wright admitted he was waxing sentimental about his time at Jacobsen and would miss it greatly.

“I love my job. I’m having a hard time saying the word ‘retirement,’” he said. “That word just doesn’t stick.”

Still, Wright is leaving Jacobsen with the peace of mind that he gave everything he had over the course of a long and prolific building career: “It’s been a great ride.”

“I’m proud to have had the opportunity to hopefully help others,” Wright said. “I appreciate Jacobsen giving me the opportunity to do what I’ve learned to love.”

In particular, Wright said, he has been reflecting recently on his work constructing the Huntsman Cancer Institute and other renowned healthcare facilities at the University of Utah, where altogether he spent 15 years of his career. It was never lost on him, he said, that he was “completing projects that helped others – especially in healthcare.” He took great pride in that.

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Jacobsen CEO Doug Welling said he is grateful to Wright for having “really helped shape the momentum and success of Jacobsen Construction Company” over the course of decades. Welling described Wright as a collaborator who always had the respect of the teams he led: “He loved working with subcontractors, and really pulling them together to establish coordinated plans and execute as a team.”

Welling speaks from experience, as Wright was his first-ever project manager upon joining Jacobsen many years ago.

“I learned a lot from John and respect him greatly. I’m very grateful for the contributions he’s made not only to our industry and to the company, but for what he’s taught me personally.”

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Jacobsen Board Chairman and former Jacobsen CEO Lonnie Bullard said Wright was always personally invested in success of the company as a whole, and not just concerned with his own projects.

“When I think of John, I think of loyalty,” Bullard said. “You could always tell with John that he was Jacobsen through and through.”

Bullard added that Wright’s extensive experience in the field — and the no-nonsense culture of accountability he fostered on every project he oversaw — elevated workers and impressed clients.

“He was a very matter-of-fact guy that didn’t compromise on quality. He wanted things done right. And every owner appreciated that.”

Jacobsen extends the most heartfelt congratulations to Wright on his retirement, and gives thanks for the exemplary way he successfully built alongside so many colleagues and partners for 45 wonderful years.

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