Cates graduated from Auburn in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Currently, he is president of Cates Builders and Cates-Kottas Development, LLC.
He began his professional career as a project engineer with Smith, Seckman and Reid Consulting Engineers and later became the manager of the Civil Engineering Site and Surveying division of Gresham Smith and Partners. In 1998, he founded Cates Construction Company.
Cates also served for three years as Gov. Bill Haslam’s commissioner of General Services for the state of Tennessee, overseeing procurement to state government, real estate asset management, and state construction. He re-entered his development and construction business following his term.
He has served on the Athletics Strategic Advisory Board and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering campaign committees for the last three university campaigns, including Because This is Auburn — A Campaign for Auburn University. He also serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council.
Cates is a member of the Auburn Engineering Keystone and Ginn societies, as well as Auburn’s 1856 Society, James E. Foy Loyalty Society, and the Athletics All-American Society.
He is married to Lyn and has two children, Hannah and Wesley, a 2016 Auburn software engineering graduate.