On the website of the marketing and sales advisory firm the Marketing Directors, its president, Jacqueline Urgo, is branded “The Driving Force.” It’s the perfect description for the self-described “Energizer bunny,” who is in charge of marketing for major residential developers. The 53-year-old is fueled by a natural vim — and cups of coffee often numbering in the double digits. On one recent morning, Urgo met with execs at Simon Baron Development about its luxury condo conversion at 12 East 88th Street, then a phone call with Ironstate Development about projects in New Jersey and Staten Island and finally, an internal meeting to talk about marketing for 99 Hudson, a residential development in Jersey City that will be the state’s tallest building. “Busy day so far,” she said, noting that she doesn’t eat breakfast and has the habit of “inhaling lunch.” But she grew up in this fast-paced city and relishes shaping its skyline. “It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s physical,” she said. Urgo started at the Marketing Directors back in 1986, when she was hired as a project manager. After serving as director of marketing, she was tapped as the firm’s president in 2007. To decompress from her busy job, she takes walks in Central Park and plays tennis on Long Island in the summer. She and her husband, Nick, a developer who is currently building homes in Bridgehampton, raised their daughters on the Upper East Side and enjoyed driving around with them and pointing out great buildings and design. But she’s always ready to get back to work, tackling projects and feeding off the energy of the city. “It’s the Big Apple and we’re conquering it,” she said.
Jumbo cup of coffee
Urgo drinks around 10 cups of strong coffee a day. She said her trademark is having a cup of joe in her hand. Her friend Angela Ferrara, who is the EVP of sales and leasing at the Marketing Directors, gave her this 64-ounce mug as a joke. She only drank out of it once. “Models drink water. I drink coffee,” she said.
Hat and shovel
Urgo keeps all the ground-breaking gifts the Marketing Directors receive. The gift of choice is usually the traditional construction hat and shovel. Urgo said she probably ha s hats and shovels from around 70 projects. The most recent is from 99 Hudson. The pair will likely be replaced by the shovel and hat for Brookfield Properties’ Manhattan West, which broke ground last month.
The plaques hung throughout the company’s headquarters are referred to as the “wall of fame.” Urgo has even more awards in her own office, including statuettes from the National Association of Home Builders. “I feel like I’m a director of the best possible production, time and time again,” she said.
3D puzzle of NYC
The Marketing Directors staff does a lot of team-building exercises to share ideas. This puzzle of the city was one. It took a couple of hours to build with a lot of people pitching in. “We’re a close-knit family and a creative think tank,” Urgo said. The puzzle isn’t just ornamental — it’s a good way to orient projects and is a testament to the changing skyline that her team has helped build.
Decorative metalwork from the Woolworth Building sits in the conference room near Urgo’s office. This piece was purchased by the firm in the early ’80s from an artist who acquired them after parts of the building had to be removed for safety reasons. The artist colored and mounted them so they’d stand out as pieces of art. “With these artifacts, God is in the details,” Urgo said. “And that’s how we run our firm.”
Photo of Schapiro’s wines
Urgo’s great-grandfather on her mother’s side started the famed kosher winery on Rivington Street on the LES. She said one of her favorite memories is working the cash register as a kid, especially during holidays like Passover when lines stretched around the block. Although the neighborhood “was scary for me as a kid,” she now thinks of it as the perfect microcosm of a changing NYC.
Urgo got these design plates —one of which shows the support structure beneath a pillar — early in her career from Judy Banham, a close friend and developer at the Glick Organization who died in 2006. “It reminds me personally to always be cognizant of the details, to make sure nothing is left untouched,” she said.
All things Italy
Every August, when her work slows down for a couple of weeks, she and her family visit Cirigliano, a medieval hill town in southern Italy where her husband, Nick, was born. There’s no television or Wi-Fi in the town, which has a population of 250 most of the year. They’ve traveled all over the world, but Italy’s their favorite spot. “Everything Italian is fabulous,” she said.
She displays plenty of photos of her family, which includes her husband, Nick, and their two daughters, Jessica, 20, and Jenna, 16. “My name’s Jackie so I drive my husband crazy with the three J’s,” she said. Jenna is a high school junior at Chapin on the Upper East Side and Jessica is a junior at Emory University in Atlanta. “I can name every building in the city that I’ve brought to life but they are my crowning achievements,” she said.