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Erica, Progressive Design

Our Story

Who We Are:

Progressive Design, Inc. (PDI) is a private, family-owned, Heavy Industrial Engineering & Design Consulting firm that provides valued engineering services. Founded in 1986 by Robert Ranson, Progressive Design has grown to become one of the largest privately held multi-discipline engineering firms in central Virginia. In 2021, Robert’s daughter and Progressive Design President, Erica Burgess, acquired ownership and established Progressive Design as a Woman-Owned business.

Our team’s knowledge and hands-on experience can take projects from concept to startup. As a full service, multi-discipline engineering consulting firm, we support manufacturing facilities and clients in many key areas including: EPC/Turnkey projects, project feasibility studies, process improvement analysis, new process design, process upgrades, air pollution abatement technology and integration, environmental compliance, product design, industrial capital projects, and detailed project/construction estimates. We serve Fortune 500 companies in industries such as chemical, tobacco, power, films, fibers, plastics, paper, pharmaceuticals, metals, food and beverage, and discrete manufacturing.

Throughout our history, our clients have deemed Progressive Design, as the company setting the standard for engineering excellence. We are proud of this recognition, but what does it mean? The science of Engineering & Design is much more than producing accurate work. It is a process of complex problem solving, research and investigation, conceptual thinking, the accumulation of knowledge, expert technical performance, effective communication, and team building. Engineering & Design demands enormous creative ability and the mental discipline to transform creativity into innovation. Progressive Design employees all share a relentless passion for excellence. They take enormous pride in their work and continuously strive to perform beyond client’s expectation.

There is quite a unique story to tell about Progressive Design, from our President, Erica Burgess:

Progressive Design is a true American Dream story where a dream came true through hard work and perseverance. My father (Robert Ranson) started his career as a pipefitter for Brown & Root at the DuPont Spruance Plant.  Working in the craft, he fell in love with the complexity and challenges of industrial construction. As he progressed in his career, he became known as the “fixer” in the field during construction. He found he was spending more and more of his time correcting errors and omissions in drawings from engineering firms. As a true entrepreneur, he saw a niche in the marketplace to draft Engineering drawings right the first time around. With that, my father dreamed up what is now known as Progressive Design. A company that could deliver constructible, maintainable, and well-designed Engineered & Designed solutions.

My father started Progressive Design when I was five years old, so I’ve had the opportunity to see the progression of Progressive Design from a small startup in our basement to a successful multimillion-dollar organization. Growing up with a small business meant taking on many different tasks such as answering phones, shredding drawings, and whatever other odd and ends needed to be attended to. As with many small family-owned businesses, young family members learn the business as they grow up, take on additional responsibilities as they mature and often work in the family business as adults.

Through high school and summers between college, I was able to provide supplemental support to our marketing, finance, and the engineering groups. For many years, I had a dream of attending Virginia Tech to get my engineering degree; however, I was also drawn to the marketing and sales side of our business. My father always said to be successful you need to connect with your passion. With a leap of faith (and probably a bit of disappointment from my father), I decided to apply to the Pamplin College of Business and pursue a degree in Marketing Management. As many children feel growing up in a family business, I had the desire to spread my wings and explore opportunities outside of Progressive Design. With that came a series of sales positions in a variety of industries. I am forever thankful for that experience, as it has made me appreciate the greatness of Progressive Design. In 2011, I came back to Progressive Design to support the Sales and Marketing side of the business.

In 2017, I achieved my dream: I became president of Progressive Design where I became responsible for the overall management of the company. My father’s succession plan was in full swing as he started to groom Progressive Design’s next generation of management.

July 1, 2021, Progressive Design hit another big milestone and became Woman-Owned. I feel so honored and humbled to have been given such an incredible opportunity to lead Progressive Design as a Woman-Owned business. I absolutely love what I do and look forward to coming into work each day. We have an amazing team at Progressive Design, and I am extremely excited for what the future has in store for us!