Ron Folkman, Chairmain & CEO of Specialty Search International, Inc. has relocated to Tallahassee, Florida July 2013, to join Greg Birkmeier, President of SSI, to centralize and expand the corporate office.


January 14, 2013 – Whaleback Managed Services, the leader in managed unified communications services, today introduced CrystalBlue Call View. A new productivity management tool available for Whaleback’s CrystalBlue Unified Communications Services that allows customers to collect, analyze and report on employee calling activities. They interviewed Ron Folkman, Chairman & CEO of Specialty Search International, Inc.,”Whaleback’s CrystalBlue Call View allows us to monitor and manage our recruiters by seeing who is on their phone, for how long, no matter where they are located. We have recruiters located all over the United States and CrystalBlue Call View allows us to remotely see their call times and easily run reports on employee call activities, allowing us to manage our recruiter’s time more efficiently.” If you would like to see the complete interview contact Lisa Allocca-Red Javelin Communications, for the complete interview and press release.


Specialty Search International would like to welcome our newest client, Carnival Cruise Lines. As Kevin Richeson, VP of HR Carnival Cruise Lines and Specialty Search International have worked together previously when Kevin ran HR with RCHC. Congratulating Mark Damme on his new position as Hotel Director with CCL.

Nicole Berry Stark as well, deserves congratulations on her newest position with Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne as their new Director of Housekeeping as well as Omni CNN Center Atlanta’s newest Senior Group Sales Manager and Ritz Carlton Buckhead’s newest member of the Travel Industry Sales team. Congratulations to you all. We wish you all the best.


Monday, April 2, 2012 Specialty Search International is upgrading their phone systems. Please follow the message prompts to reach your desired SSI team member. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We are working diligently to complete this upgrade as efficiently and expediently as possible. Thank you.


Ron Folkman, Chairman and CEO based at the San Francisco office, has continued his quest to grow their market share in the International Asian Market. With SSI’s new client, Mandarin Oriental, based in Hong Kong and San Francisco, Ron Folkman continues to partner with (4) new Asian based properties to open 2013 plus numerous executive assignments.



*Frances Bates was appointed to Director of Residences at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia

*Peter Tischmann was appointed to Director of Food and Beverage at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman

*Scott Schafer was appointed to MSE at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne

*Ian Abdon was appointed to Director of Operations at The Clevelander Hotel, Miami

*Manuel Rodriguez was appointed to Banquet Chef at The Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans a Waldorf Astoria Hotel


We are pleased to welcome the following new luxury clients to our preferred list:

*Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

*The American Club Hotel-Destination Kohler

*Stein Erikson Lodge

*Evans Premier San Diego Hotels

*The Irvine Companies-The Resort at Pelican Hill

*Enchantment Resort and Spa

We are also excited to announce the recent appointments of the following candidates to our clients:

Kekoa Morton was appointed the Guest Services Manager at the Enchantment Resort

Rudy Benavides was appointed the Director of Revenue Management at the Resort at Pelican Hill

April West was appointed the Director of Human Resources at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

Masato Kominami was appointed the Director of Rooms Operations at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

Matthew Birkenmeier was appointed Chef de Cuisine at the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall

Todd Phillips was appointed F & B Manager at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, an Auberge Resort

Dan Keyser was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing for Hilton Dulles

James Coffey was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing at the Dolce Peachtree

Joylette Whitaker was appointed the Director of Sales and Marketing Embassy Suites Chevy Chase

Theresa Martin was appointed the Catering Manager at the Silverleaf Resort

Bhavna Venugopal was appointed the Sales Manager at the Lansdowne Resort, Benchmark Hospitality Int.

Renee Russell was appointed Catering Manager at the Lansdowne Resort, Benchmark Hospitality Int.

Fernando Cerna was appointed Regional Director of Travel Industry for Ritz-Carlton Miami

Leanna Carlson was appointed Director of e-Marketing for West Paces Hotel Group

Ylin Sun was appointed Director of Revenue Management to the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach

Beth Stone was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing for the University Hotel Minneapolis

Constanza Thornton was appointed Sales Manager at the Ritz-Carlton Naples

Linda Menshon was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing of Ritz-Carlton Sarasota

Megan Whaling was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing to the Founders Inn Resort and Spa, West Paces Hotel Group


Ron Folkman, Chairman & CEO of Specialty Search International, will be on KVON 1440AM on Friday February, 4th at 9:20am discussing expansions overseas and the new west coast office in Napa, CA. If you are unable to catch the interview live, go to and click on the link for the interview to hear it.


Specialty Search International, Inc. (SSI) is opening several new locations in response to worldwide client growth in the luxury segment of the hospitality industry.” We want to expand with our clients”, says founder Ron Folkman. “Many of our client relationships extend approximately 15 years and we are dedicated to serving their management staffing needs. By opening these new locations, SSI will broaden its access to the world’s best hospitality talent.”  Ron’s move to Napa, CA will create a west coast office and Greg Birkmeier, SSI`s President will remain in Florida managing the 20+ year east coast office.   Ron expresses “I am so excited to be branching out to the west coast. It is such a beautiful area of the country. We have worked successfully with many clients throughout California and the Western U.S. over the years. We look forward to continuing to partner with their talent needs.”

SSI is also finalizing international sites to focus on Europe and Asia and service their international clients. “Companies like Ritz-Carlton and Intercontinental that we assist in the Americas continue to expand internationally.  We understand the benefits of our proximity to their management teams, as well as the synergies derived from understanding local employment practices and cultures”, said Ron Folkman.

SSI can be reached at any of their U.S locations toll free by dialing 866-789-2673.




Specialty Search International, Inc. (SSI) has successfully assisted clients in recruiting industry professionals to make a direct impact on revenue and market share growth.  SSI’s Chairman, Ron Folkman, has noticed a significant trend developing within the industry’s hiring strategies.  “We are seeing a dramatic ‘flight to quality’ as companies seek candidates who have the experience and relationships to build market-share during these challenging economic times.  While clients have certainly noticed a sizable increase in the number of unemployed candidates seeking opportunities, they are aware that the professionals they wish to attract are often not active job seekers.”

In the past several months, some of these placements include Regional Director of Revenue Management – Capella Hotels and Resorts; Regional Sales Manager – Capella Hotels and Resorts; Director of Sales – InterContinental Chicago; VP of Sales – Tradewinds Resorts; Director of Corp. Sales – Peninsula New York City.

Kit Pappas, VP of Sales for the West Paces Hotel Group, the parent company for Capella Hotels and Resorts, stated, “I have worked with Greg Birkmeier at SSI for nearly 10 years. For Capella Hotels and Resorts, he has been successful in understanding our organizational needs and consistently finding high performing professionals.”

Dan Preston, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Intercontinental Chicago summarized his recent experience, “SSI recently completed a search for the Director of Sales here at the Intercontinental Chicago.  This was my first experience with SSI.  Several of our sister properties have successfully used SSI in their past recruiting efforts, and now I see why.  They produced a number of high-profile, talented sales leaders from the target market we identified and as a result, we secured our candidate.  Their process is more thorough and all-encompassing than any that I have experienced with other recruiting firms.  The next time I have outside recruiting needs, SSI will be my first call.”

Keith Overton, Chief Operating Officer for Tradewinds Island Resorts, stated, “We recently completed a search for a Vice President of Sales here at Tradewinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach, Florida. In addition to our own recruitment efforts, we engaged multiple hospitality search firms to identify and introduce us to great candidates for this critical position.  Kevin Kelley with Specialty Search International identified a number of highly qualified candidates, and they introduced us to the hospitality sales leadership professionals that ultimately became our 3 finalists for the position.  We were all extremely impressed with the quality of candidates that SSI provided to us and we were also very impressed in the professional manner in which they managed the entire process. I highly recommend SSI for any organization that is in search of top hospitality talent.”

Specialty Search International has focused on world-wide hospitality industry recruiting for the past 20 years.  The firm offers both contingency and retained search options, and specializes in the upscale, luxury and boutique segments of the industry.  Contact the firm at 813/818-7800 or