Dennis Nash ’04 MBA, the CEO of Control Station in Manchester, a software company that serves a rapidly growing portfolio of leading and multinational manufacturers, has been named Connecticut’s 2023 Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Control Station licenses software-based solutions to half of the manufacturers listed among the Fortune 500, including Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, CF Industries and Newmont Mining Corp., and supports facilities in more than 70 countries.
Nash, who became president of the company in 2004, has been described as a forward-thinking strategist who has positioned Control Station as an emerging leader in the market for industrial process analytics and optimization.
“To be successful, Control Station, like all small businesses, needs to work harder at everything. To compete with bigger companies, we need to be more innovative and adaptable,’’ Nash says. “After all these years I still feel like every transaction is significant, and the relationships we form with customers need to be authentic if we’re going to grow.”
Work Helps Large Companies Become ‘Greener’
The company originated at UConn in 1988, when chemical engineering professor Doug Cooper developed educational tools that were licensed to colleges and universities. Nash, then an MBA student, wrote a business plan that would build upon Cooper’s innovations. He also “wrote himself into the plan’’ and became the CEO immediately following his graduation.
Today, the multimillion-dollar business offers a portfolio of software products that help manufacturers to improve production efficiency and throughput.
“To control their processes, manufacturers need software that accurately models behavior that is inherently complex and dynamic,’’ Nash says. A typical manufacturer will have hundreds, if not thousands, of individual and often interacting controllers. By monitoring and applying analytics, manufacturers can proactively identify, isolate, and correct a range of performance issues that would otherwise undermine plant efficiency and throughput.
“In a world that needs to be greener, our work allows manufacturers to use fewer production inputs and less energy, and it allows them to increase quality while producing less waste,’’ Nash says. “Making multinational, Fortune 500 manufacturers better at what they do is one of the accomplishments that we’re most proud of.’’
Five years ago, Nash and the company were honored as Connecticut’s SBA Exporter of the Year. That distinction was heightened in 2022 when U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo presented Nash with the President’s “E” Award, recognizing the company’s contributions to significantly increasing U.S. exports.
Employees That Are Resilient, Innovative
Control Station employs 16 full-time staff and maintains a joint venture located in Roscrea, Ireland. Many of his employees are fellow UConn graduates who have been with him since the beginning.
Nash describes his team as a group of resilient and highly innovative people who embrace the idea of ‘failing fast,’ where a team has the freedom to fail but learns and improves from each stumble.
“Fear of failure can be crippling to any size business, but especially to one that’s just starting out and getting its legs,’’ Nash says. “From the very start, I understood that in order for the company to succeed, risks would need to be taken. By surrounding myself with smart people, I’ve been able to make more good decisions than bad ones, which have enabled Control Station to win in an increasingly competitive and global market.’’
Nash earned his undergraduate degree at University of Notre Dame before securing his MBA at UConn in 2004, with a concentration in finance. During his second year in the MBA program he served as president of the Graduate Business Association.
He remembers many faculty members fondly, including Suresh Nair, Mo Hussein, and the late Steve Floyd. “I took full advantage of the relationships that I formed with my professors and often asked them, even years after I graduated, for their insights and opinions,’’ he says. “I think it’s important for students to seize on and maintain those relationships. You never know when an oddball accounting situation will pop up and an expert’s opinion will be needed.’’
Nash will be honored, along with other award winners, during a Small Business Resource Expo and award ceremony on May 4 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. He will go on to compete for the national award at an event in Washington, D.C. in late April.