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February 20, 2017 2017 Business Leaders: Small Business of the Year

Colosi builds E.T.&L. by never saying no

PHOTO/EDD Cote Jennie Lee Colosi not only leads her family's construction firm but also held leadership positions with industry groups, such as Construction Industries of Massachusetts.

Jennie Lee Colosi grew up within E.T.& L. Corp., a construction company, before becoming president after her father retired in 1988.

She now runs the largest woman-owned company in Central Massachusetts, which is consistent with the company's history – E.T.& L. was founded by a husband and wife in 1945 with the wife owning more shares – an uncommon occurrence during the time period, said Colosi.

Today, E.T.& L.'s projects include an $11-million project for the Apex Center in Marlborough and a $56-million MassDOT project on Methuen's rotary.

The Apex Center being developed by Westford-based Walker Realty, is a 475,000-square-foot entertainment and retail center, which includes two hotels in Marlborough. E.T.& L. did work on Route 20 for MassDOT and is familiar with the soil in the area which gave them an edge in the bidding process.

E.T.& L. will do all of the site work on the 35 acres, including drainage, and 50,000 cubic yards of rock excavation – 100,000 tons of which will be crushed and reused on site.

“It will be great for families to have more restaurants to go to, and two more hotels will bring in more people to visit the area.” said Colosi.

Colosi and E.T.&L. are both well respected in their field, said John Pourbaix, executive director of the Construction Industries of Massachusetts, a trade group in Norwood. Colosi held several CIM leadership positions over the years.

“Colosi has been the chairman of committees throughout the years. She is very involved. She will never say no, she is always there when we need and she is not afraid to voice her opinion,” said Pourbaix.

The family business

Colosi’s father, Anthony Colosi starting working for E.T.& L. in the 1950s before buying the company with an associate. In the 1970s, E.T.& L. switched from building mostly schools to bidding on public work from what is now MassDOT, said Colosi.

Colosi worked summers at E.T.& L., where she gained experience before going to college at the Georgia Institute of Technology for civil engineering.

At the time, very few women were pursuing engineering degrees, and Colosi said she was often the only woman in her classes.

“I felt pretty isolated. Some of the professors they would look right through you. They just felt that a women should not be taking up a seat in this class,” said Colosi.

Regardless, Colosi said she enjoyed her time at school before coming back to work at E.T.& L. From there she built her skills by taking night classes at Clark University to obtain her master’s degree in business administration.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Walker Realty was based in Whitinsville instead of Westford; that E.T.&L. excavated 500,000 cubic yards of rocks from the Apex Center instead of 50,000; and called Colosi's college the Georgia Institute for Technology instead of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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