October 30, 2017
Outstanding Women in Business

Briggs created a $13M engineering powerhouse

Edd Cote
Margaret "Peggy" Briggs, managing principal, Epsilon Associates.

Margaret "Peggy" B. Briggs has left her mark on so many real estate developments it's hard to keep track.

Briggs, a managing principal at Maynard environmental engineering firm Epsilon Associates, typically applies her skills to real estate developers when projects require environmental approvals and municipal permitting.

As such, she's worked on some of the state's largest projects, including the ongoing $565-million CitySquare project in Worcester and the planned Seaport Square project in Boston.

She also worked on the Fort Devens redevelopment and on different projects in Kendall Square in Cambridge.

She graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in biology in 1978, but found herself working for engineering consultants HMM Associates right out of school.

"It was the dawning of the industry, really, for environmental consulting," she said. "I just fell in love with the multi-disciplinary aspects of it."

Eventually, HMM Associates was sold to a larger firm, but Briggs and six other co-workers decided they didn't want to work for such a large corporation any longer, citing politics layoffs and a lack of influence.

"I had really been used to having responsibility and influence," she said.

What started as a company with just six employees 20 years ago has grown to a 53-employee firm making about $13 million annually. Rather than being forced to sell the company, original retiring shareholders are selling stock to new shareholders within the company, Briggs said.

"That's important to us," she said. "It's what we were trying to get away from when we started the company."

Though she acknowledged commercial real estate is dominated by men, her field intersects where developers meet city and state regulators, where there have always been plenty of women, Briggs said.

The company has worked on some massive infrastructure and real estate projects, including the Berklee College of Music, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Salem Jail Complex and the Martha's Vineyard Hybrid Cable.

With a portfolio that impressive, one would think a managing principal of a busy environmental consulting firm would not have time for simple things in life, like family and recreation, but that's far from the truth.

Briggs is an avid skier and golfer and will always outshoot Ted Barten on the course, said Brigg's fellow managing partner and co-worker of 30 years.

He affectionately referred to Briggs as "Peg," short for her nickname Peggy.

"She's quite competitive," Barten said of his co-worker on the golf course.

Briggs worked on her golf game over the years with the same diligent work ethic with which she used to run the company for 20 years.

"She really got strong [at golf], and her competitive streak runs through not only the business, but things like sports," Barten said.

At work, it's straight to business. Briggs has a knack for cutting through the clutter and getting teams to really dig into a project to create a winning bid, Barten said.

"She won't waste a lot of time on things that aren't really going to get us to win on a particular job," he said.

Despite her strong work ethic, Barten said what has impressed him the most is Briggs' ability to maintain a strong social and family life, raising three children through college and even serving terms on the board of selectmen and planning board in her hometown of Concord.

"She's got a lot of energy and stamina, and she's been adept for decades at juggling all of those things," he said.

Read more about this year's Outstanding Women in Business:

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