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Two top execs depart John Buck in latest high-profile staff turnover

From left: Dirk Degenaars, John Buck and Kevin Hites

The John Buck Company lost two top executives in the latest turnover at one of Chicago’s most prominent real estate development firms.

President and Chief Investment Officer Kevin Hites and Chief Operating Officer Dirk Degenaars left the firm, five months after founder John Buck returned to his role as CEO, according to Crain’s.

Hites had been with the firm since 2014, and Degenaars since 2016. Taking over Degenaars’ duties will be new Chief Financial Officer Jeanne Lazar, who worked for Buck for 15 years before leaving in 2007. She returned to the firm last month, replacing former CFO Sam Persico.

The company told Crain’s Hites and the firm “mutually agreed to part ways.”

Buck returned to his namesake company in May after former CEO Richard Lindsay left “to pursue other interests.” Buck had moved into the role of chairman at the firm four years earlier.

The latest moves follow the departure of then-president Blake Johnson in 2015 for CBRE, and Buck’s son and firm principal Jack Buck in 2012 to start Free Market Ventures.

When John Buck returned to the CEO role, the company said it was also shifting its focus from ground-up development to emphasize adding value to existing properties it buys.

In July, the company signed Facebook to a 263,000-square-foot lease in its recently completed CNA Center at 151 North Franklin Street, a space that could house as many as 2,000 employees. The lease came just after John Buck Company signed Facebook to lease an entire 756,000-square-foot building in San Francisco, the largest office lease in that city’s history. [Crain’s] — John O’Brien

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