Getting to Know You: Jorge Madruga, Founder and CEO of Maddd Equities
Jorge Madruga is the CEO and Founder of Maddd Equities, LLC, a real estate development and investment firm based in New York.
He has over twenty years of experience in acquisitions, construction, asset repositioning and development across a broad spectrum of property types. Jorge was instrumental in several high-profile developments, including St. Ann’s Terrace, a $250 million ground-up mixed development in the Bronx; The Mantena, a 98-unit luxury rental building in Hudson Yards; and The Nathaniel, an 85-unit luxury rental building in Greenwich Village.
Jorge Madruga entered the real estate business with a background in construction and the rehabilitation of housing. Early on, he was a parking lot owner and operator. This background has proven to be very beneficial as the scale of his projects grew in size and scope and parking became a key element.
In the years since, Jorge has cultivated a detailed knowledge of the various facets of real estate development. His main expertise focuses on site identification/acquisition and development possibilities, and he has also developed a keen sense for finding development opportunities in properties or areas that are undervalued. Jorge is a member of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), an organization committed to promoting the creation and preservation of affordable housing. He also continues to attend humanitarian missions to Cuba to bring much-needed food and supplies to his former home country. Additionally, Jorge works closely with several non-profit organizations, such as the New York City Housing Partnership, South Bronx community development organization SOBRO, and the Local Development Company (LDC) of East New York to help strengthen the communities in which he invests.
Jorge recently has been a key player in the revitalization of some New York City’s more economically-challenged neighborhoods, having developed both low and middle income buildings in the South Bronx and East New York. Additionally, Maddd Equities asset manages a portfolio of 2,000 multifamily units, as well as roughly 500,000 square feet of commercial space.
What do you currently do at your company?
I am the CEO and founder of Maddd Equities LLC, which is a real estate development and investment firm based in New York, particularly in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. I specialize in acquisition of land and/or existing real property to develop commercial real estate, with a particular focus in developing affordable housing. My role involves making day-to-day decisions regarding different potential development scenarios that best suit the needs for the various communities in which we operate, structuring potential deals with other investment partners, and overseeing projects that are currently in construction or soon to be in construction.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
The inspiration behind my business developed over time. I started working in the construction industry as a laborer in my late teens. At that time, I gained valuable knowledge of construction, but I was always eager to have a larger role in the overall development decisions. Later, I became a parking garage owner, and through that business I was able to meet real estate developers who would park their cars in my garage. From there, I worked as an assistant to a lawyer/developer where I eventually learned a great deal about development and affordable housing, and after working very hard, became his partner. As a parking garage owner, I also learned a great deal about how to operate a small business. As I became more experienced as a business owner and experienced in the real estate development industry, I realized that creating housing for underserved communities was where I found the most value and fulfillment. I know what it is like to struggle as an immigrant from Cuba, and I know the sacrifices and hard work that many families make to better the lives of their children. With my background and knowledge of the real estate business, I knew affordable housing and community development was my passion, and it informed my eventual inspiration to start my own development company.
What keys to being productive can you share?
For me, the key to being productive involves surrounding yourself with people who are as passionate and determined as you are about what you do. I am a people person and I work best by communicating with people of all types of backgrounds to find synergies that can benefit us both to help move projects forward as a team. I am very fortunate to have found a great team and partners to work with, which lends greatly to my productivity.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
The most valuable lesson I have learned throughout the course of my career is to maintain perseverance and determination. I have had many obstacles in my way since coming to this country as an 11-year-old political refugee from Cuba. As a boy, I watched my own parents struggle to make ends meet, and as an adult, I worked hard and made sacrifices to achieve the success that I have already attained, and that I continue to strive for today. I could not afford a college education, but I always found ways to gain knowledge by communicating, networking, and having a strong work ethic. Developing relationships and learning from others is also something I do every day. But underpinning it all is a perseverance and determination innate to my personality.
What would you tell your younger self?
If I had to give others advice, I would say to think outside of the box and to not take “no” for an answer. There are many times I have been told “no,” or that something could not be done. I encourage others to explore creative strategies to problems or deals that may seem impossible. It is sometimes the more complex projects that yield the greatest reward, even if it means taking an unconventional approach or working harder to achieve the end result and provide the best outcome for the community. Each project is very meaningful to me in some way. I would advise others to be passionate about each of the projects they take on, because that passion will incentivize them to come up with creative solutions to help the project move forward for the community.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family. When owning your own business, it can be challenging to take time for yourself and to spend time with your loved ones. I value all the time I can spend with my wife and daughters, and I especially enjoy it when we are able to travel together and celebrate special moments in each of our lives as a family.
What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
Though the pandemic was a very difficult time for so many, for me, one positive aspect that came from it was the increased popularity of using Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. As you start to work on many deals and projects, it is hard to be present in person at every meeting. Being able to have meetings from various locations is always very helpful, and I enjoy having the ability to communicate face-to-face rather than through conference calls alone. As I mentioned, I am a people person, so being able to meet regularly face-to-face with partners, co-workers, and my team is always a great benefit.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
One of the hardest obstacles I have had to overcome is my experience coming to this country as an immigrant from Cuba. Coming to the United States was very difficult at first, especially not knowing the language and not having many resources in terms of education or a career path. It was hard to fit in and at the same time bear a responsibility to help my family make ends meet. I worked very hard, taking a job as a construction worker alongside my father, along with any odd jobs I could find to help put food on the table. I believe that determination and believing in the impossible is what has helped me to overcome those difficult times. I still carry that same determination with me today in everything I do and continue to set goals and take chances.
How do you measure success?
A good friend and business partner once told me, “You can’t live a perfect day unless you do something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” I have learned that the greatest success is being able to give back to others and give others the opportunity to achieve their own success. I am always looking for ways to give back. One of my greatest joys is to continue to work with Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Contributing to scholarships for students who are eager to work hard and achieve their own success is one of the greatest rewards for me. I know what it is like to not have the opportunity for an education or a mentorship, and so giving back to Hostos each year is very meaningful for me.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?
My advice for readers, especially those entering the business or real estate field, is to take chances. There are definitely mistakes that may happen along the way, but learning from those mistakes and persevering is what is most important. Take a chance on your dreams and pursue them with the utmost determination and hard work, and do not be afraid to ask for help and advice along the way. Giving up has never been an option for me, and I encourage others to achieve their goals and never settle for less.
Getting to Know You: Jorge Madruga, Founder and CEO of Maddd Equities