John Flake leaves Flake & Kelley to join daughter at Flake & Co. (UPDATED)

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,135 views 

John Flake, founder and chairman of Little Rock-based commercial real estate firm Flake & Kelley, has left the company.

In a statement issued Thursday (May 7), Jessica Flake Dearnley said her father now works for her Little Rock commercial real estate business, Flake & Co. Dearnley also resigned from Flake & Kelley this year to launch her firm.

Flake is the chief real estate advisor for Flake & Co. Dearnley is the company’s CEO and Thomas Schmidt is co-founder.

“I’m excited to be able to work with my daughter and Thomas Schmidt as they strive to chart their own course in the real estate industry,” Flake said in a statement. “My job will be to advise, when asked, consult on projects and provide support.”

Flake founded the business now known as Flake & Kelley in 1979.  During his career, according to a news release, he built the 40-story Simmons Bank building in downtown Little Rock, which opened in 1986. He was also the developer of several corporate office complexes in Arkansas, including Fairfield Communities, Beverly Enterprises and Axciom Plaza.

He also completed projects for healthcare institutions, office, retail and multiple energy projects. His client portfolio includes Baptist Health, Centerpoint, Walmart Inc., Dillard’s, Verizon, Acxiom, Entergy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

John Flake

“My father is a dream addition to any brokerage team,” Dearnley said. “His career spans four decades because he is a man of great character, vision and wisdom. He has been a mentor to many of Arkansas’ business leaders and has been my role model for a lifetime.”

Dearnley worked for Flake & Kelley for eight years. In October, the company announced she was relocating to the real estate firm’s Little Rock headquarters. Dearnley previously managed the firm’s Northwest Arkansas office in Springdale as principal broker, partner and executive vice president. She joined the Little Rock office Nov. 4, 2019, to work alongside her father, she said.

Flake & Co. opened its office earlier this year at 200 River Market Ave. in downtown Little Rock.

“Working with my daughter has always been very important to me,” said Flake. “I believe in Jessica’s vision for the company and I want to do everything I can to help her and co-founder Thomas Schmidt succeed.”

Flake & Kelley Commercial CEO Hank Kelley said Flake’s last day at the company was Wednesday.

“John indicated over the past few months that he had a desire to work with his daughter,” Kelley said. “We spent time since that conversation working out a mutually agreeable departure plan. I wish him well in the new venture.”

When asked how Flake’s departure might affect the company’s name, Kelley said the firm will have an announcement to make “in the coming days” with details on a new brand. He said Flake’s ownership shares will be reallocated among principals of the new company.

“We’ll provide details on the name, ownership structure and company principals in our official announcement,” Kelley said. “Today, we wish our valued friend John Flake success and best of luck. We continue to have real estate investments together, and will work together to make those properties thrive.”

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