2020 Northeast Ohio Smart 50 Awards celebrate area’s top executives

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Julie Cruz Blair
Executive director
Leadership Lorain County
When Julie Cruz Blair began working with Leadership Lorain County, she never expected to be running it within her first year. Faced with an unexpected leadership departure and an uncertain future, she stepped up to bring LLC back to the reputation it once had.
LLC’s mission is to develop and advance leaders who support the growth and diversity of the county by directing initiatives to connect the people, government, academia and businesses of Lorain County. Cruz Blair has overseen filling LLC’s Signature Class to capacity and created new programing to connect alumni, community partners and businesses to enhance collaboration and connections in similar fields. She has also restructured the organization’s budget to remain healthy and sustainable after a rocky few years.

Jeff Beck
President & CEO
Leaf Home Solutions
Leaf Home Solutions is an industry-leading direct-to-consumer business, providing patented and high-value solutions that enhance the safety of the homeowner and preserve and enhance the value of the home.
Leaf Home Safety Solutions increase the comfort and ease of living in your home while decreasing the burden and risk of maintaining it. Leaf Home Solutions serves customers throughout the U.S. and Canada from more than 85 direct customer service delivery centers. Its deep understanding of its significant and growing customer base is underpinned by direct, personal engagement with customers in their homes and sophisticated, data-driven and multichannel customer identification capabilities. Its vision is to be the leading innovator and provider of direct-to-consumer home safety and improvement solutions.

Betsy Mack Nespeca
President & CEO
Mack Industries Inc.
Founded in 1932, Mack Industries manufactures precast concrete products including wall structures and wastewater treatment products. Headquartered in Brunswick, the company has six other facilities in Ohio and several out-of-state plants.
President & CEO Betsy Mack Nespeca leads the third generation of the Mack family business and continues reinforcing the culture of the founder, stressing the importance of four pillars: Teamwork, which demands a positive work attitude; customer-driven focus; a commitment to safety, service and quality; and dedication to continuous improvement. By adhering to these principles, the company continues to grow.
Mack Nespeca and her team have strengthened the engineering and design disciplines and expanded the scope of the company’s capabilities.

Ethan Karp
President & CEO
Under CEO Ethan Karp’s leadership, MAGNET responded to Gov. Mike DeWine’s request and headed the statewide Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to fight COVID-19. This required several organizations to work together under massive time pressure.
As a result of Karp’s leadership, over the course of just a few weeks, MAGNET and its partners talked to over 2,000 manufacturing businesses. Dozens of companies received hands-on assistance in pivoting to create masks, gloves, gowns, swabs and other critical PPE and medical supplies. Some of these products were designed and built at MAGNET by the organization’s engineers. For example, MAGNET designed and coordinated the production of 1 million face shields, 40 “testing booths” now in use at University Hospitals and over 1 million face masks.

Margaret W. Wong
Founder & Managing Partner
Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC
Margaret W. Wong, managing partner of Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC, has evolved, learned and grown over the course of her career. That evolution and growth have led to the creation of a law firm that has bettered the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. Wong has proven that once she sets her mind on a goal, her commitment, passion and desire can lead to great things for everyone involved.
Because of Wong’s vision and execution, clients’ lives have been tremendously improved. She has also assembled a staff with colleagues whose passion and shared vision and mission are turning clients’ dreams into a reality, and sparing them from some of their worst fears.

Matt Buder Shapiro
Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
Founded in part by CMO Matt Buder Shapiro, MedPilot is an AI-driven patient financial engagement platform that has helped more than 1 million patients navigate their health care experience and that has a 97 percent patient satisfaction score.
In the past two years, MedPilot has gone from working with 12 health care providers to working with over 70. The company has doubled its revenue year-over-year and grown its employee headcount from five to 30.
Cleveland has been instrumental in the company’s growth. Since moving to Northeast Ohio, MedPilot has increased it footprint from a 500-square-foot WeWork in New York to a new 7,500-square-foot headquarters on South Marginal. The company has outgrown its Cleveland offices three times and raised multiple rounds of funding.

Mark Fedor
Morgan Engineering
Over the past 150 years, Morgan Engineering has created a legacy in material handling systems through the design, production and service of large-scale industrial cranes to serve the iron and steel industry. But under the leadership of CEO Mark Fedor, the Alliance-based company has evolved.
Morgan, through Fedor’s leadership, is on the forefront of automating complex material handling processes. Through its subsidiary, Morgan Automation, the company seamlessly integrates a variety of complex components to deliver a simple, integrated operator experience. This automation helps its customers improve both manufacturing efficiency and plant safety.
Morgan Automation’s proprietary software, CEPHAS, provides customers with precise, automated inventory storage and tracking.

Patrick Ghilani
MRI Software
As CEO of MRI Software, Patrick Ghilani has put the company on a path for global expansion unrivalled by anything in its history. He has created a company culture that champions innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit, and evolved the company into the proptech industry leader it is today.
Under Ghilani’s leadership, MRI began garnering attention within the industry and attracting interest from outside investors. That has helped position MRI to bolster innovation across its end-to-end offering, accelerate growth, extend its global footprint and deliver on its mission to create an open technology environment for the real estate industry.
Since 2015, the company has made 25 acquisitions, and it continues to significantly increase its client base each year via organic growth and acquisitions.

Jeffrey Herzog
Co-Founder & President
Nexus Engineering Group LLC
Since its founding in 2005, technology and innovation have been critical to Nexus Engineering Group’s success. The firm was an early adopter of 3D design, laser scanning and animation technology, and is currently developing the use of augmented reality to improve interactions and feedback on design concepts.
Herzog, the firm’s co-founder, president and executive sponsor of its technology and innovation strategy, leads with an eye toward innovation and continuous improvement. In the past year, Nexus has made significant advancements in its innovation agenda. It has invested in a new 3D modeling software platform, advanced the use of 3D model animations for design reviews and construction planning, and more. These moves have contributed to the goal of better overall project performance and investment return for Nexus clients.

Bill Nottingham
Principal & VP of Growth
Nottingham Spirk
Bill Nottingham is principal and vice president of growth for Nottingham Spirk, focused on identifying opportunities for innovation and growth for the firm’s client partners. He is second generation and a member of the Nottingham Spirk leadership team.
Nottingham’s client prospect close rate is at the top of the firm’s team. He follows through to create the right deals for Nottingham Spirk and fosters ongoing communication with clients and new prospects. His persistence and patience have helped him succeed even in a pandemic. In fact, his greatest close rate in recent years was just recently during the pandemic.
Nottingham is a catalyst and an inspiring leader who will help the firm succeed during the pandemic and establish processes and strategies to prepare it for future economic challenges and client dynamics.