“Do you know what Tenax means?” asks Tamera Rush, president and CEO of Tenax Technologies.
“Tenacious!” She answers her own question as she describes the traits that she believes contribute to her success. In addition, she lists perseverance, being fearless, having a sense of humor, and being“a little crazy. Life is so good,” she beams. “I’m having such a good time!”
Rush launched her start-up government contracting company, Tenax Technologies, in June 2014, after much consideration and soul searching. “My husband and I had lots of discussion. He is more grounded than I am,” she says. “We socked away bonuses and saved money and studied what the business would look like.” She talked to trusted mentors, researched the marketplace and finally decided to take the plunge. She resigned from her job as vice president of Operations at STG, where she managed 400 people, and six weeks later was in business for herself.
Going from a huge operation to working alone was her biggest challenge, she says. “This is a collaborative business, and it’s difficult to be sitting by yourself all day,” she explains. Crediting her fearlessness for helping her to take the risk, she recalls a move from upstate New York early in her career. “That move was a turning point for me,” she remembers. “I knew no one. I found my way on my own.”
This time, she used the relationships she had fostered and the resources available at the county level to build her business. Beginning with the Harford County Office of Economic Development, she was able to take advantage of a number of small business services designed to point start-ups in the right direction. John Sullivan, Business Navigator at OED, notes that these resources include business counselors, the Small Business Development Center, the Maryland Procurement Technology Assistance Program and the Susquehanna Workforce Network. In addition, he says, as companies achieve success and grow, they are eligible for other resources, such as training grants and finance programs. “We want to make it easy for these companies to get access to the things they need – a one-stop-shop for start-up businesses,” he says.
Rush says the SBDC helped her to strengthen her business plan and build an infrastructure for her company so that she could eventuallyhire employees. She was able to secure space at The Ground Floor, the county’s office area for fledgling companies, where she could work in a collaborative atmosphere. She would also gain a physical address, use of conference rooms and other office essentials.
Sullivan says the office space is designed to be one of the catalysts for success, but that success doesn’t happen overnight. “It takes some time to see the results.” In Rush’s case, Sullivan says, “The Ground Floor exposed her to other companies in similar industries and also gave her access to the procurement technology assistance program that includes information about government contracts on which her company could bid.”
After one year, Tenax Technologies has evolved into a thriving company providing consulting services for research and development, testing and evaluation and execution of mission critical projects for government customers. The professional team is skilled in program management, C4ISR solutions, information technology support, environmental and civil engineering, Chem-Bio defense, Logistics, and Knowledge Management Solutions.
“We are client-relationship driven,” Rush says. “We want to be the employer of choice by the contractors and defense community.”
Tenax Technologies has landed a major contract and is graduating from The Ground Floor to its own offices in the Water’s Edge business complex. While Rush says her proudest moment was her first day on the job in her office at The Ground Floor when everything started to gel, she also says, “I’m proud of it all. This business takes strong intensity and relationships and I’m proud of the overall business.”
Rush has hired eight employees, and while they will work out of government offices, Tenax Technologies’ new first-floor office space will have plenty of meeting and administrative space and room for growth. Rush says she has a number of consultants in the wings so that when she lands the next big contract, time isn’t wasted searching for the right person –it’s already someone with whom she’s connected. She is vague about her five-year projections, saying only that she anticipates continued double-digit growth with both employees and revenue.
She and her husband are planning a move to Havre de Grace, but Rush says her business will stay put. She continues to emphasize her people-oriented nature in her spare time. She is vice president of SARC’s Board of Directors, and as her company grows, she has several programs in mind that will give back to the community.
Meanwhile, the leader of Tenax Technologies remains fearless about the future, and true to the company’s name – tenacious. I95