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Pioneering entrepreneur Denise Jones expands engineering systems firm

Martin Desmarais | 5/14/2014, 12:57 p.m.
Denise Jones

Denise Jones, president and CEO of Dnutch Associates, Inc., has been a trailblazer for women entrepreneurs in Massachusetts, running and growing her company successfully for over 20 years.

The recent growth earned Jones and Dnutch the Massachusetts Small Business Association 2014 Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year award.

The award is presented annually to a woman-owned business with a successful three-year track record. According to Massachusetts SBA District Director Robert Nelson, the selection of Dnutch for the award was based on staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales, innovation of product and service, response to adversity and community contributions.

“After starting Dnutch Associates, Inc., Denise Jones showed an impressive willingness to innovate and to grow, and took full advantage of the government contracting and other help that was offered to her and to her business, including the SBA’s Emerging 200 training program. Dnutch Associates is a strong example of a resourceful woman-owned business that has staying power, and we are delighted to recognize its success,” Nelson stated.

A native of the Boston area, Jones grew up in Lynn and has much of her family in Cambridge. She started the Methuen-based Dnutch Associates in 1993.

The company specializes in systems engineering consulting services. It provides services in the design, verification, development and testing of large-scale information technology systems to federal, state and private sector customers.

Dnutch has an impressive list of government customers including the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the Department of Transportation and Department of Defense. However, it has also scored big in the commercial industry with giant clients such as Cisco, Intel, General Electric and Raytheon.

Jones said that Dnutch has consistently had approximately 15 employees, but more new work has the company up to 25 employees now. Dnutch generates about $3 million in annual revenue. Current growth has Jones optimistic that the company can increase this revenue into the $5 million to $10 million range — which she has set as a target.

Nelson referenced these heightened business prospects as reason for tapping Dnutch with its small business award, though Jones didn’t expect the honor.

“The award itself I was surprised I got it, but it is an honor to get it,” Jones said. She credited her company’s longevity for the recognition. “It is a lot of hard work. I average about 80 hours a week. I am an A-type personality and I just go, go, go.”

Jones also credits the federal sector for driving Dnutch’s success. Surprisingly, she admits that getting state government work in Massachusetts has been one of her biggest frustrations in her two-decades at the helm of her own company. In fact, Dnutch can more often be found working on government contracts in New York and Washington than in Massachusetts.

“I have been in business for 20 years and I don’t have a chance to do much work in my backyard. I would like to do that,” Jones said.

Despite the difficulty getting government work in the state, Jones said she continues to work at it and has increased her efforts with the state office of the SBA in recent years, taking part in several of the programs they offer to minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses.