Jeff Freed
CEO and President

Jeff is an innovator and inventor with over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing. His innovations and inventive ideas can stem from some of the most unique areas of everyday life. One of his ideas, EZ ZAP, was featured as number seven in Seth Godin’s book, 99 Cows (2003). EZ ZAP was a software vending machine for the Palm PDA device. Whether it be a bird and magic show or something more complex such as EZ ZAP, Jeff will not fail to challenge your thinking and creative mind.

Pocket Smart String, which received a design and utility patent, sold over 30,000 units worldwide. Smart Innovations is in the process of re-introducing an updated version of this unique product. Who would have thought that pulling a string out of a calculator to measure odd shaped things would be something people would want to buy? Well, Jeff did! His team has several other Smart Innovations that they are working on bringing to market soon.

Two years ago, Jeff invested in a 3D printer so that he could “fail faster” on the ideas he had. He taught himself CAD and produces his creations using this amazing technology. Now with the ability to create right in his home, he doesn’t have to waste countless hours waiting for 3D printed items to arrive only to find that it needs some more tweaking.

Jeff says that his idea of creating a good team is to surround yourself with people that you’re not. If you do this, the rest will fall into place. “Smart Innovations is not just about a product, it is more than that… it is how the product makes you interact with the world.”

Jeff has been married to his best friend, Debbie, since 1984 and has two boys and two grand babies.

 


Herb Dixon
Vice President of Design

Herb is a self-employed designer, illustrator, project coordinator with over 47 years of experience in product design, display and exhibit design, consumer products and recreational vehicle products. He became the Iowa Distributor for Nimlok Display and Exhibit products in 1988 with a territory covering the state of Iowa after working as a satellite dealer for the original mid-west distributor. He was offered the territory due to his point-of-purchase display background and product engineering and design skills. He sold the Nimlok exhibit business in late 2009 after 22 years as the Nimlok distributor.

Herb is a creative designer and illustrator with a natural affinity for engineering and design. He has had numerous design awards in the exhibit and product fields, and currently owns 10 design and utility patents in Iowa. Herb is a self-starter, and enjoys the challenge of creating solutions to engineering problems and concepts.

He’s inspired when he can sketch out ideas, and concepts with marketing, engineering and sales staff members. He enjoys being a team player and has developed his color rendering and sketching ability to show his design concepts and ideas. If you can describe your idea to Herb, he will not fail to draw it for you.

When Herb isn’t glued to the drawing table he is playing electric guitar in his church worship team and enjoys jamming with his friends.

Herb married his wife, Lorna, in 1973 and resides in the Minneapolis area. They have one daughter, a graduate Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as a Medical Illustrator in Baltimore, MD. She is a Senior Animator / Medical Illustrator in Seattle, WA.

 


Victor Dawson
Vice President of Strategic Sourcing and Quality Control

Victor is the Founder and President of Summit Group International, a global product sourcing and manufacturing company.

He is a partner and COO of Cuddle Clones, a company in Louisville, KY, that makes plush pets that look exactly like your pet.

Victor is also the Founder and CEO of As You Go, a business/ministry making it easy for people to share their faith through apparel – to spark a conversation that impacts eternity.

He holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial Management from Georgia Tech in Atlanta and an Executive MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

Victor has held several senior executive and consulting positions with responsibility for product sourcing, manufacturing, engineering, product development, distribution/fulfillment, quality assurance, and shipping & logistics. He has worked extensively in Asia, especially in China, during the last 18 years with a wide variety of suppliers.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of CBMC USA and CBMC International, Cuddle Clones and a charitable organization in Denver, Kenzi’s Kids and Dolls for Daughters.

The best words to describe him are Global Business Owner, Speaker, Business Coach, Servant Leader, and World Traveler.

Victor married his wife, Nan, in 1974 and lives in Denver, Colorado and they have two adult children, a grandson, and a granddaughter.

 


Burt Johnson
Vice President of Technology and Treasurer

Burt graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a double major in Business Management and Computer Science and has worked for Meredith Corporation as Digital Communications Specialist for more than 20 years.

One of Burt’s many strengths, is to listen to an idea and capture the vision of it. His possibility thinking, along with his many talents and skills, are a great asset to Smart Innovations. If he doesn’t know the answer to something, he knows how to find it.

Burt's motto is "I've never used 'I've never done that before' as an excuse. I use it as a challenge!" and has owned several successful companies including a photography business and a construction business. He also owns a company that sells web hosting.

Burt currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Urbandale Community Theatre as Vice-Chair and contributes his time and energy in building sets for productions as well as web site development.

Burt married his beautiful wife, Nancy, in 1988 and they have three amazing children. All three children are either currently or going to attend Olivet Nazarene University, their parents alma mater.

 


Jonathan Freed
Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Jonathan is not a stranger to the other team members of Smart Innovations. In previous collaborations with this team he was instrumental in getting a former product out to market. He was also responsible for writing patent applications, which were granted, for two products that Smart Innovations will be introducing soon.

Jonathan’s greatest strengths are his drive and determination. He thrives on challenges, particularly those that expand the company’s reach. He is building Smart Innovations into a worldwide product development company as he applies what he has learned from his previous work with this team.

Jonathan is an avid reader of classics as well as business development with a passion for marketing and the psychology behind it.

Jonathan married his lovely bride, Abbey, in 2012 and now has a little boy and a girl who keep him motivated to work hard.