Qualifications and Testimonials



Since its creation in 1989, SSI has successfully completed over two thousand executive and management placements in the hospitality industry. Recognized as one of the hospitality industry’s premier recruiting firms, SSI has effectively partnered with many of the industry’s leading organizations in meeting critical staffing needs. A typical client relationship extends nearly 10 years with multiple successful search engagements during that time. This loyalty is a testament to both consistently positive outcomes and the professionalism of the firm’s methodology.


  • Committed to the executive search industry’s highest standards, SSI is a member of the National Association of Personnel Services, and has been recognized with inclusion to NAPS President’s Circle.
  • Executives and managers placed by SSI have a 98% retention rate in their first year of employment, which is impressive given the hospitality industry’s turnover rate near 100% annually.
  • The firm’s leadership team of three officers has over 40 years of combined recruitment experience preceded by over 60 years of hospitality industry management experience.
  • Operating with the latest technology in a recruitment database management system, SSI has established relationships with over 10,000 current and qualified candidates.



“Thank you Specialty Search International for the more than 13 year professional relationship that we have shared and the numerous successful placements.  Your ability to understand the values of an organization and then interpret that into a successful recruiting strategy has resulted in best in class performance for our Company.  The timely and always thorough communication along with personal integrity and flexibility are admired by everyone who has had the pleasure to work with you.”

Kevin Richeson, PHR, Vice President Global Human Resources Operations
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.


“Working with SSI on retainer, they were instrumental in successfully sourcing an Executive Chef whom ideally matched the requirements we were desirous of. In a short period of time, after we had already saturated the market with this particular career opportunity, SSI presented a qualified slate of candidates and assisted us in securing an outstanding chef for our 5 Star / 5 Diamond property, The American Club, whom aligns well with our mission, culture and leadership principles. I have truly valued our relationship and I am confident we would not have someone of the caliber of our selected Executive Chef candidate had it not been for Specialty Search International. We are looking forward to working with SSI on additional opportunities with The Kohler organization. They certainly have exceeded our expectations.”

Kathy Hurlbutt, Director of Human Resources, Hospitality & Real Estate Group
The Kohler Company


“I am truly appreciative of all your efforts with the Executive Chef Retained Search you handled for us. You are a real pro and I always enjoy working with you. Now go find me an Executive Pastry Chef!”

Craig Reed, Director of Food & Beverage
The Broadmoor


The staff of Specialty Search International, Inc. are by far the best executive search team in the industry.

I had the privilege of working directly with SSI as a candidate for the position of Hotel Director with Carnival Cruise Line. During the entire interview and placement process they worked very diligently and despite busy schedules with other candidates and clients, they personalized my experience and kept me informed and up to date with each progression.

Making a career change can be a very challenging and stressful process but with SSI’s knowledge and professional leadership made the overall experience very rewarding. Thank you for all your support.

George H. Nelson, Hotel Director
Carnival Cruise Line


“I would like to thank SSI for identifying the right candidate for our F&B Director position and assisting us with the selection process. I was truly impressed by your candidate’s skills and character and I am looking forward to working with him. Thank you again for the support.”

Marc Langevin, General Manager
Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman


“SSI is very helpful in searching for the ideal candidate. They are diligent in truly understanding the personality and motivation of the candidates to determine the proper selection.”

T. Sean Mullen, Vice President of Sales
Noble House Hotels & Resorts


“Specialty Search International concluded a search for our Director of Human Resources here in Kapalua. They found at least six strong candidates for us to select from and were able to send us only those leaders who could be a food fit for our organization and our location.  They stay on point through the entire process and through the offer, and even were involved in setting up initial training for our new executive.  I am sure I will use them again when searching for key leadership talent.”

Tom Donovan, Vice President & General Manager
Ritz-Carlton Kapalua


“We have been engaged with SSI since their inception over 20 years ago. They exhibit extremely competent business acumen-consistently linking an insightful assessment of external business factors and talent with a keen awareness in understanding our human resource needs.”

Marshall W. Kelberman, Director of Rooms
The Peabody Orlando


“Have I told you how much I appreciate your help?! You literally are the only recruiter who has, without fail, come through with the appropriate caliber candidates for our property. I am very thankful for your assistance in our searches.”

Nicole Cerfontain Rosas, Director of Human Resources
Enchantment Resort & Mii amo Spa


“It is rare to find an executive search firm that really takes the time to understand your culture and to work passionately on your behalf to ensure a perfect fit in the placement of a new executive. We consider SSI to be a partner, and their work has become an integral part of our success. They listen to our needs and they respect our time by presenting only the candidates that are worthy of consideration. Their knowledge of the hospitality business is vast, helping greatly to quickly learn your needs and ultimately to fulfill them. I look forward to working with them for many years to come and highly recommend SSI to any organization that takes their personnel needs seriously.”

Mark J. Novota, Managing Partner
Wequassett Resort and Golf Club


“SSI has provided quality people to our company for over 15 years. Given an assignment, they are very aggressive and thorough in seeking out the best possible candidates that match your organization’s needs and culture. I have found that they represent our company professionally and with integrity. I would highly recommend SSI for your recruiting needs.”

Dave Gordon, Vice President of Human Resources
Winegardner & Hammons


“As Director of Sales and Marketing for the InterContinental Chicago, I have had the opportunity to work with several executive search firms over the years. Without a doubt, SSI far exceeded my already high expectations of what a professional search firm should be. They have tenacity, a can-do attitude and follow through as well as knowledge of the hospitality industry second to none. SSI has been able to present me with the best and most qualified candidates for any of our open positions. We always look forward to retaining their services for our hiring requirements.”

Dan Preston, Director of Sales & Marketing
InterContinental Chicago


“I highly recommend Specialty Search International, Inc. Not only do they filter very well, their follow up with all parties involved is tremendous. They have placed highly successful individuals with us. SSI stands out, especially in the way they find out what skill set, attitude and proven track record fits the search!”

Raymond Vermolen, General Manager
InterContinental Houston


“I have worked with SSI for nearly 10 years. For Capella Hotels and Resorts, they have been successful in understanding our organizational needs and consistently finding high performing professionals.”

Kit Pappas, Vice President of Sales & Marketing
Capella Hotel Company


“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.  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.”

Keith Overton, Chief Operating Officer
Tradewinds Island Resorts


“I have worked with Specialty Search International for over fifteen years on targeted searches for my employers. In each case, they were thorough in gathering information from the company and vetting candidates to ensure a perfect match. They were professional in their approach from the first point of contact through to the final placement of the individuals. I have also worked with them as a candidate. They again were thorough in their process in identifying my strengths, experience and career goals to ensure that the position was a match for me as well. SSI has proven to be knowledgeable about the industry, professional and thorough in their processes and establishes themselves as a partner in which the goal is a win-win-win situation. I have no hesitation to recommend them to both companies and candidates.”

Paula Rauenbuehler, Director of Human Resources
Colonnade Hotel, Boston


“I recently had the privilege to work with Specialty Search International Inc., and can honestly say it was, by far, the best experience I have had in working with an executive search firm. After many years in this industry, I feel I have found a long term partner with SSI. They were true professionals throughout the process and provided numerous, top notch, candidates. SSI was there every step of the way to support us and adapt to all of our needs. I look forward to working with SSI again.”

Al Linares, Director of Human Resources
InterContinental Miami


“I feel like I have a true partnership with Specialty Search International. After I was recruited by SSI for an outstanding new position, I have continued to use their services to find top-notch candidates for my team. They are efficient, thorough and extremely knowledgeable about the candidates they present. The follow-through from the initial search to the day of hire is extraordinary. SSI truly stands apart from all the others recruiting firms out there.”

John Oakley, Director of Sales & Marketing
InterContinental Houston


“I want to thank you for assisting us with the search for DOE. Your candidates were top notch and it is very evident you know our property and our team well. Good luck with the other searches for our hotel and if you need me, you know how to find me.”

Rosa Marie Pettus, CHRE, Director of Human Resources
The Peabody Orlando


“Specialty Search International-San Francisco office, helped us secure our Rooms Executive Assistant Manager and was extremely engaged with our interview process and was aggressive with follow up, which was very helpful throughout the hiring process. We appreciate their personalized service and the special attention they provide to us!”


Raul Salcido, General Manager
Ritz-Carlton San Francisco


“Specialty Search International possesses an energy and sense of urgency that is unmatched in the industry. From the moment we selected SSI, they began an intense search for qualified candidates. SSI utilizes advanced technology to not only find candidates with experience and knowledge you desire, but to find candidates that will match the culture of your company to help ensure you are getting the right person.”


Chris Plummer, General Manager
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort


“Specialty Search International, Inc., brings intensity and drive to each search. Working hard and quickly to identify, assess and present well-qualified candidates. They have a deep familiarity with the hospitality industry and a broad network of contacts. Specialty Search International, Inc., are not only, an effective partner, listening and adapting to the needs of their clients but also, provides frequent updates. I always enjoy my interactions with SSI and keep their number handy for the next search.”


Cathy Edwards, Senior Manager – Executive Recruitment
Kohler Company