THE WOODLANDS, TX-A little more than two years following its launch, the J. Beard Real Estate Co. has expanded to nine employees, adding two more local names to the fold.

“Just this past year, the volume of activity necessitated that we add more people,” says Jeff Beard, president and owner of a company founded in October 2003 with just him at the helm. The newest members of the team are Zach Armstrong and Les Johns.

Armstrong, who has been involved in the financial end of the commercial real estate business for five years, will be responsible for marketing and sales of office, retail, land and medical professional properties. Prior to joining Beard, he was branch manager and commercial lender for Woodforest National Bank, where he helped to arrange financing for multimillion-dollar commercial real estate projects in the Woodlands and northwest Harris County. He was accorded a sales and leasing associate’s title.

Hired as a senior sales and leasing associate, Johns has more than 20 years of transacting deals in office, industrial and mixed-use properties on behalf of Equity Office Properties Trust in Chicago. During much of his career, Johns worked with institutional clients and individual owners including Cigna, TIAA-CREF, Nippon Life, Bank of America, Mellon Bank and Equitable Life, completing 7.1 million sf in transactions valued at more than $675 million.

Beard says the new hires will add some good depth to the staff. “Les has a diverse background and huge experience, including 20-plus years of working for Equity,” he tells “Zach’s background in commercial lending is also very strong for us and helps us build a team to complement one another.”

Beard adds one strategy of the new hires is to ensure that the company continues to meet growing and changing client demands. “We got into this business a couple of years ago with a focus on retail,” he says. “But these days, we’re handling office, retail and land–and within the office component, there’s a large medical one.”

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