HOUSTON-Transwestern Commercial Services has set its sights on Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta. The locally based commercial services firm announced plans to beef up its presence in those cities, both in terms of the number of employees and in its service capabilities.

“We are not as mature in those markets as we are in our other markets around the country,” Transwestern CEO Larry Heard tells GlobeSt.com. “We are looking to replicate the success that we enjoy in Washington, DC, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Austin.”

As the first step in the expansion, the firm has tapped James E. Ledbetter Jr. to serve as Southeast regional president. Ledbetter, who most recently headed up Southeast operations for Insignia/ESG, brings 20 years’ experience to the post. Based in Atlanta, Ledbetter in his previous post oversaw 93 professionals and a leasing and management portfolio of more than 15.7 million.

Heard says this is the first in a series of announcements the Houston-based firm plans to make regarding expansion plans, which may entail the addition of key personnel or companies. While further details will be released over the course of the summer, he says the move should bring the number of Transwestern’s transactional professionals up from its current 230 to between 300 and 350 by the end of this year. The majority of that growth will occur in Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles plus a few of the firm’s larger markets.

“We feel that the economy is on the verge of turning around,” Heard says, when asked what makes now the right time for such a move. “My sense is that while 2003 will continue to be somewhat of a slow and bumpy year, 2004 should be the start of a nice economic turnaround. And a number of our clients will be looking at us to help them in a broader, more national sense.”

Cynthia Hoffman is the editor of Real Estate Forum Magazine.

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