A Four-Pack of Hall of Fame Inductees!

Okay, we have to admit: we don’t have bronze busts of for the 2024 Top Echelon Hall of Fame inductees, similar to what the Pro Football Hall of Fame has for its inductees. However, it should also be pointed out that Top Echelon is not an $18.6 billion per year business, as the National Football League is. (Yes, that’s “billion” with a B.)

Anyway, that’s not to say that we don’t have anything for our inductees. We do, and we shall present these somethings to them at Top Echelon Connect Fall 2024 in Canton in September.

However, between now and then, we have four more inductees into the Top Echelon Hall of Fame, and I am pleased to announce them now:

Last week in The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog, we helped kick off “Top Echelon’s 95 Epic Days of Summer” by releasing the first three members in the inaugural class of Top Echelon Hall of Fame. Those three members were:

  1. Gary Silver of The Shay Group
  2. Al Katz of First Search, Inc.
  3. Bruce L. Ramstad of Bruce L. Ramstad
  4. Larry Ploscowe of EXEK Recruiters, Ltd.

But of course, we have more than just names. We have stories—stories about their membership in Top Echelon Network, their successes, and their careers in general. And since this is the most HOF inductees that we’ve announced in a single week (so far), let’s get to the good stuff . . .

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NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST: If there was a “Nice Guy Award” in Top Echelon Network, Gary Silver of The Shay Group would definitely be a finalist for the award. That’s because not only was Gary an exemplary member of Top Echelon during his nearly 30-year run in the Network, but he’s also one of the most genuinely nice guys you could ever have the fortune of meeting.

Gary Silver of The Shay Group

Gary Silver

And productive. Yes, Gary Silver was quite productive as a Top Echelon recruiter. And for all of these reasons—and more—we’re pleased to announce that Gary Silver is a 2024 inductee into the Top Echelon Hall of Fame!

Gary started his recruiting career in 1987, after 10 years in Healthcare and Insurance system analysis and programming. As a result, The Shay Group specialized in Healthcare and Information Technology with a focus on Interface Development. During his time in the Network, Gary embraced The Four Pillars of Top Echelon—Quality, Communication, Trust, and Active Participation.

However, the Pillar that Gary exemplified the most might have been Trust. That’s because he formed and developed trusting relationships with his trading partners. As an example, he made 50 split placements—that’s right, 50—with one of his trading partners: Donna Carroll, CPC of Systems Personnel. You don’t make that many splits with another recruiter unless you trust them implicitly . . . and they trust you just as much.

For his part, Gary is as appreciative of his experience in Top Echelon Network as his trading partners were appreciative of him.

“There’s no question what TE has meant to me,” he said. “In good times, it’s made my revenue stronger by many miles, and in bad times, it’s been a life saver. I’m not sure how much stronger you can say that.”

Congratulations to Gary Silver for being inducted into the 2024 class of the Top Echelon Hall of Fame!

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FAR FROM SOLO: If anybody has tales to tell about their Top Echelon Network membership (and the history of Top Echelon Network overall), it’s certainly Al Katz of First Search. Most of them, of course, revolve around Top Echelon’s conferences and conventions.

The Beach Olympics. The infamous escapades of Bus #2. Accidentally burning down a tiki bar.

Al Katz of First Search, Inc.

Al Katz

Al is like Harrison Ford in the movie Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, portraying the character Han Solo and talking about adventures from the earlier Star Wars movies. We’re paraphrasing here, but here’s what Al would say . . .

“It’s true. The relationships, the camaraderie—all of it. It’s all true.”

After all, Al has been with Top Echelon almost from its inception. In fact, he attended the first-ever Top Echelon Network convention, back when Top Echelon was known as Nationwide Interchange Service (NIS). Not only that, but Al is still a member after all these years, his career—and his Network membership—having undergone numerous stages of evolution to arrive at this point.

You would be hard pressed to find another recruiter with as many Network accomplishments as Al. That’s because not only did he excel in making split placements within TE, but he also made copious amounts of cash early in his career through Top Echelon Contracting (now known as Fox Hire). At the time, Al had two other partners in the firm—Chuck Szajkovics and Mike Zarnek—who also focused heavily on the contracting side of the business.

“We would not have conquered the contracting part of the business without the key relationships that we built with Fox Hire,” said Al. “It started with Top Echelon Contracting back in 1992, and it really helped our business take off.”

One of the tales that Al can tell is how difficult it was to start a successful recruiting network back in the 1980s. There were plenty of obstacles, to say the least. For starters, there was no Internet. Or email.

“Back then, we as headhunters didn’t trust anybody but ourselves. But [Top Echelon founder] Mike Kappel kept us on track to work with each other, and once we made those first few placements, we kept going. We had to know that it worked first, though, and we found out that it did.”

So instead of not trusting other recruiters, Top Echelon membership helped Al trust other recruiters implicitly. And that led to many, many placements. As of this writing, Al has made 161 direct hire placements as a Network member, and those placements have generated $1 Million. This means that Al is a member of both the $1 Million Club and 100 Placement Club in Top Echelon.

“We operate as a team with each other on Top Echelon,” said Al of he and his trading partners in the Network. “We’re not a bunch of solo wild entrepreneurs.”

Al’s Top Echelon legacy goes far beyond his placements and production. That’s because his daughter, Sarah, is also part of First Search and very active in the Network. (Not only  that, but Al’s wife Irma was a recruiter when Al first met her, further proof that the Katz clan in a “recruiting family.”) Sarah has made quite a few placements in the Network and is poised to take over for Al eventually when and if he should decide to retire.

So far, Sarah has made 26 split placements and earned nearly $300K in cash-in from those splits. (First Search has been responsible for 226 direct hire placements and $1.5 million overall during its time in the Top Echelon.)

“She does stuff with trading partners I never would have done,” Al said of his daughter. “She’s using technology to attract companies and candidates, and she’s found success her own way.”

However, have no fear. Al has no plans to “ride off into the sunset” quite yet. He still has placements to make . . . and quite possibly, a few more tales to tell.

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ALL-TIME GREAT: Bruce L. Ramstad was as old school as #recruiters come, and he applied that old-school approach to his Top Echelon Network membership with remarkable results.

Bruce started in the recruiting profession in 1987, working as a plastics #recruiter in Atlanta. He formed his own company three years later and never looked back, pausing only to join a #recruiting network named Nationwide Interchange Service (NIS) in 1991.

NIS was eventually renamed, of course. The new name? Top Echelon Network.

Focusing primarily on Engineering and Industry & Manufacturing, Bruce’s production was prodigious. He is one of a select group of recruiters who have made 300 or more Network placements as a member of Top Echelon and is also among the all-time cash-in leaders within TE.

Hampered by health problems later in his career, Bruce networked in person as much as he could, realizing the benefit of meeting his trading partners face-to-face. Bruce enjoyed a highly successful career, both as a recruiter overall and as an elite member of Top Echelon Network, and we’re pleased to announce that Bruce is a 2024 inductee into the Top Echelon Hall of Fame!

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THE EXTRA MILE: Just like Gary Silver of The Shay Group would be a finalist for the “Nice Guy Award” in Top Echelon Network, so would Larry Ploscowe of EXEK Recruiting, Ltd.

However, not only is Larry a nice guy, but he’s also a persistent recruiter and a stanch believer in “going the extra mile,” whether that’s with a candidate, a client, or a trading partner in Top Echelon Network. That combination of characteristics and traits has helped him build a very successful career, both inside and outside of Top Echelon.

Lawrence T. Ploscowe of EXEK Recruiters, Ltd.

Lawrence T. Ploscowe

“Something else that’s been key is talking to my colleagues as colleagues and not as competitors,” said Larry. “That means when a trading partner gives me a candidate who’s not a fit, I go out of my way to make sure I communicate effectively with them. I tell them that I really appreciate their efforts, but I also tell them why the candidate is not appropriate for the position.”

Larry’s demeanor and approach to his Network membership has been integral to his success. It’s one of the main reasons that he’s made so many placements in Top Echelon—over 100 and counting—and why he’s made them with so many different trading partners. The bottom line is that other recruiters enjoy working with Larry, which compels them to want to work with him, again and again.

“I treat my trading partners as if I was the hiring company, and I provide them with the feedback that I would want to receive from a hiring company,” said Larry. “If you’re the type of person who communicates well and provides that type of feedback, other recruiters will have the incentive to want to work with you.

“I heard this from a speaker one time at an event, but we as recruiters should strive to earn the title of trusted adviser, both with your clients and your candidates. Well, I’ve always wanted to earn the title of trusted trading partner, too, and I think that’s been a key to my success in the Network.”

Larry Ploscowe is a trusted recruiter, trusted advisor, trusted trading partner, and now a member of the Top Echelon Hall of Fame! Congratulations, Larry!

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Be sure to check The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog–as well as Top Echelon’s official LinkedIn account–for future announcements regarding 2024 inductees into Top Echelon’s Hall of Fame!

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