FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Trendsetters - Oct. 2006

Engineered for Success - Leila Jammal Nodarse

Starting her own engineering firm in Winter Park 15 years ago, Leila Nodarse says she didn't envision having more than 15 or 20 engineers and employees some day. Her vision turned out to be somewhat myopic. Nodarse & Associates today has grown to 230 employees, six offices statewide and $20 million in annual revenue.

Nodarse, 46, a Gainesville native, followed her father, Jim Jammal, into engineering and entrepreneurship. As a child, she visited job sites with him. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 1982, she joined his firm, Jammal & Associates. Her classes and the profession had few women, but "I always had the advantage of a father in the business. I was offered the credibility. I just had to keep it."

Leila Jammal Nodarse
Nodarse & Associates
President, CEO
Winter Park

Hiking. The family hiked Acadia National Park in Maine over the summer.

Engineering Grads:
"We hire a lot of graduates, and they are green."

Alejandro, 9, and Francisco, 6.

Being a woman-owned business:
"It's definitely been an advantage at obtaining public-sector contracts. Then you have to perform and do well and get it renewed. It's a door opener."

In 1991, three years after her father sold his firm to a national concern, she founded her own firm, specializing in geotechnical engineering, environmental consulting and construction materials testing. The firm works with civil engineering firms to test soil, groundwater and construction materials for developers and to design foundations, among other tasks. Some 60% of revenue comes from public entities such as the state Department of Transportation. Private-sector jobs include work on the 35-story The Vue and the 32-story 55 West, both under construction in downtown Orlando, the 16-story Progress Energy building going up in St. Petersburg, the Daytona Oceanwalk complex and Universal Studios parking garages.

She plans in the next 12 months to move from sole ownership to shared ownership with key staff. She expects to employ 350 in three to five years. Meanwhile, she visits with UCF engineering students and assures the women, who are eager for info on how their careers will mesh with their plans for marriage and children, that engineering, better than many professions, lends itself to a balanced home-work life.

Miriam Lopez - TransAtlantic Bank, Chairwoman, CEO, Miami

Risk-Reward - Miriam Lopez

Age 55. Arrived in the U.S. from Cuba at age 9. As a student, considered diplomacy, then law and finally banking.

Bank then:
TransAtlantic had one branch and just $1 million in capital when she was asked to join as president and CEO in 1985 from Republic National Bank. "I knew there was going to be some risk. I was young."

Bank now:
Seven branches, $574 million in assets, 130 employees. Not rapid growth but ...

The annualized return on equity is 17.3%, making TransAtlantic a top performer. Its major lending arenas are business and commercial real estate.

Bank in 2010:
$1 billion in assets without, she hastens to add, "losing our return on equity."

Miami Dade College Alumni Hall of Fame, Hispanic Magazine Latina of Excellence Award for banking and finance.

Worst part of job:
Administrative and regulatory.

New vice: vice:
Sudoku. "I sit up until 1 or 2 in the morning doing those puzzles."

Travel lover:
"You see my face change the moment I get on a plane."

The five states left to visit:
The Dakotas, Utah, Nebraska and Minnesota.

An upcoming must-see:
Machu Picchu.

Florida International University.

Right Moves - Abigail Bogan Ackerman

The Business:
Bogan Supply was founded by her father, M.P. Bogan, and uncle, Lee M. Bogan, in 1932. The wholesale plumbing distributor now has $24 million in annual sales, 65 employees, six warehouse stores and three showrooms at eight sites stretching from Mobile, Ala., to Panama City.

Her story:
A Pensacola native, Ackerman became active in the business in 1974 after graduating from the University of West Florida in 1972, rose to vice president and took over in 2005 as CEO upon the death of her brother, M.P. Bogan Jr. She's 56.

"Our numbers in the last six years have doubled. I just feel like we're in the right place at the right time."

Worst part:
"I'm in my office more than I want to be. I don't get to see my special customers as much."

Husband, County Court Judge David Ackerman; daughter, Carissa Ackerman, a New York clothing designer.

Three miles a day.

Recent books:
A biography of Alexander Hamilton, historical fiction on Caesar and Cleopatra and a business book on branding.

Guild member for the Manna Food Bank, past board member and longtime supporter of the American Diabetes Association.?


Laura Kelley, 46, deputy executive director, Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, and former executive director and financial adviser for the Florida Transportation Commission

Jan Risi, 46, CEO, Independent Purchasing Cooperative, the 75-employee, Miami-based Subway franchisee-owned and operated purchasing cooperative

CPA Tyra Tutor, 37, senior vice president, corporate development, MPS Group, Jacksonville, overseeing 28 people in marketing, strategic sales, investor relations and public relations

Andrea Orr, 39, director of business sales, Verizon Wireless in Florida.