Team

Specialty Search International’s research and recruitment professionals are led by the following management team with over 35 combined years of recruiting experience:

Ronald D. Folkman – Founder and Chairman

Ron founded SSI in 1989. He received his college degree in Hotel Management from Webber International. For fifteen years prior to 1989, he was in executive leadership positions for both Food and Beverage and the Rooms Divisions. Ron managed Hilton, Hyatt, and Fairmont hotels throughout the country, including numerous openings. He additionally ran independent high volume restaurants as a General Manager. In addition to recruiting, he also manages day-to-day operations, internal training, company marketing, and client relations for all the locations.

To contact Ron directly, please dial toll free (866)789-2673, extension 227 – St. Petersburg, Florida office.

Greg Birkmeier – President

Greg’s experience in hospitality recruiting began with Specialty Search International in 2000. He has proven effective in partnering with clients in creating solutions to their most critical staffing needs and focuses on many of SSI’s top repeat clients, as well as new client development. His ten years of industry experience included operations and sales positions with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and The Renaissance Hotel Company.

He was the Director of Sales and Marketing at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing at The Ritz-Carlton, Kansas City and National Sales Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. Prior, Greg was a National Sales Manager, Catering Sales Manager and Restaurant General Manager at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel. He began at The Renaissance Waverly Hotel as a Management Trainee upon graduation from Purdue University with Honors and Distinction (Summa Cum Laude).

To contact Greg directly, please dial toll free (866)789-2673, extension 222 – Tallahassee, Florida office.

Michael Choiniere – Vice President

Michael rejoins SSI after several recent hotel industry roles as a Sales and Marketing executive for iconic destination resort properties.   Michael’s industry experience spans 30+ years as a successful sales and marketing leader who has consistently been a key contributor to achieving company near and long- term financial goals.   Responsibilities included creating innovative sales, marketing and product strategies that resonate and delight clients while building brand equity to competitively position the company successfully in the marketplace.

Michael’s prior recruitment experience with SSI was an impressive 4 year tenure where he cultivated a loyal clientele ranging from mega-convention sized hotels to boutique destination luxury resort properties.  He was adept at thinking holistically about the value he provides clients, the development and execution of compelling recruitment plan, and effectively collaborating with stakeholders internally and externally to attract the top talent in the industry.

To contact Michael directly, please dial toll free (866)789-2673, extension 230 – Tampa, Florida office.

Kevin Kelley, CHME – Emeritus Senior Vice President

Specialty Search International announces the retirement of Senior Vice President, Kevin Kelley. Kevin joined the firm in 2005, and immediately established himself as a leader and innovator in our firm and the hospitality recruitment industry. He has benefited hundreds of industry executives by introducing career development opportunities, and dozens of hospitality companies have engaged him exclusively to help their organizations grow with new executive talent.

Kevin arrived at SSI with an impressive hotel career history. He held leadership roles with organizations including the Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa, Williams Hospitality’s El San Juan Hotel and Resort and several independent luxury resorts. Some of his industry roles included Vice President of Marketing and Development, Area Director of Sales and Marketing, and Assistant General Manager. Kevin’s hotel career has spanned locations throughout North America and the Caribbean.

Kevin’s passion for Duke University basketball, long distance biking, golf, and collegiate and professional spectator sports have led to many interesting life experiences, which he has shared with us through the years. He has many talents to share, and now with more free time, we look forward to updates on how he chooses to do so. Whether he re-launches his youth basketball coaching career, his PGA golf course reviews, or finds new outlets, his passion for life and sense of humor will benefit many.
He will remain our Emeritus Senior Vice President. We will miss him, and wish him the most enjoyable of retirements.

Juliet Deitz – Senior Recruitment Specialist

Juliet has more than 20 years of hospitality industry experience, focused primarily on upscale hotels and resorts. She held long tenures as Director of Human Resources with companies including Omni Hotels and Resorts and Benchmark Hospitality International, as well as prior operational leadership roles. Juliet’s expertise included on-property leadership responsibilities, and expanded leadership support roles at the regional and national level. With Benchmark Hospitality, she managed several of the company’s properties within the metropolitan New York City area and in Hawaii. She joined Omni’s resort portfolio, supporting numerous locations in the Northeast, and served as a leading member of the resort transition team for Omni’s expansion into the resort segment in 2009. She assisted in brand transitions for the Bedford        Springs Resort, Mt Washington Resort, Amelia Island Resort, and The Homestead. A proven leader and developer of talent. Juliet’s career has spanned locations throughout North America, Hawaii, Bermuda and her native London, UK.

To contact Juliet directly, please dial toll free (866)789-2673, extension 231 – Sarasota, Florida office.

Michelle Ruggiero – Staffing Manager

Michelle joined SSI in 2010. She has extensive experience in luxury retail having worked as a manager for Ralph Lauren in Tampa for many years. She attended the University of South Florida for Business Management and as the Staffing Manager, assists the various SSI office locations in identifying talent globally. Michelle also manages the firm’s website development and postings for Job Openings.