By Heidi Simmons
Young and hip, Jaci Fitzsimonds, President of Cord Media, is hungry — and not for a meal. She and her company have a plan and she is eager and excited to see it come to fruition. A resident of the Coachella Valley for ten years, she has been focused on building a successful advertising business.
“I bought out one of the partner’s shares and then ended up marrying the other partner,” said Fitzsimonds. “My husband and I went from doing business at our kitchen table, to 40 employees.” Fitzsimonds is married to Jonas Udcoff, CEO of Cord Media.
With a degree in Interior Architecture and Design from North Dakota State University, Fitzsimonds started here in the CV in the home building industry. With the home building business down turn, she was given an opportunity to head up media and sales for a luxury homebuilder television show on local CBS. From there she started a company that created TV commercials. The business gradually turned into a full-size advertising agency.
“We have taken our time,” said Fitzsimonds. “We wanted to really have a slow and steady, healthy growth. It’s been very strategic in our planning.”
In January, Cord Media will launch its new brand in hopes to become the local, as well as a national leader in advertising. “We wanted to be sure we were in a solid position,” said Fitzsimonds. “You can’t put it out there that you are the biggest and the best, if you are not the biggest and the best.”
Cord Media will stay here in the valley making Palm Desert home base. They are purchasing their current building and remodeling. “It’s going to have a real cool, hip vibe,” said Fitzsimonds. “All the graphic designers will be upstairs. We’re calling it the penthouse. It’s going to be fun.”
It’s important to Fitzsimonds that the people working for her love to come to work. Having more employees has made her take on more of an administrative role. When the business was just Udcoff and herself, Fitzsimonds admits it was intense but not as complicated.
The Cord Media Mantra: “Don’t say we didn’t warn you.” Fitzsimonds felt it was important for everyone coming to work at Cord to know the work is hard and the hours are long. “Representing casinos and resorts, our business is 24/7, 365,” said Fitzsimonds. “It’s a very stressful business but at the same time it’s extremely fun and very rewarding. You have to be ready for that.”
Fitzsimonds has built a quality team so she can have time with her family. With two children ages four and nine, she is able to go to the park with the kids, volunteer at the school and be at their events.
“It’s been really, really hard work. But I brought on people who are stronger and better than I am,” she said. “I’ve focused on bringing the best of the best to Cord.” Together with her husband, they manage to make their family a priority.
“I’m grateful to have my business here in the CV,” said Fitzsimonds. “My commute to work is two minutes — I can’t even hear a full song on the radio! I’m able to leave at lunch, take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment, go to a meeting and be back at the office in just minutes. You can have a successful business and have a successful family life here.”
Born and raised in North Dakota, Fitzsimonds was a farm girl. She brings the integrity and commitment that comes from being part of a generational farm. Her personal motto: “Work hard and be humble.” As a kid, she got up early in the morning to pick corn and sold it on the side of the road. There were only 29 kids in her high school graduating class.
In the same way her family business was passed to her father and will go to her brother, Fitzsimonds hopes to have Cord Media for her children.
“It’s so fun to sit down and talk with somebody about their business. When they get excited, we get excited. I love to make my clients dreams come true,” said Fitzsimonds.