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Ron Sunshine of Ron Sunshine Associates, LLC is one of the very few recruiters who knows what Top Echelon Network was called before it was called, well, Top Echelon Network.

Ron Sunshine of Ron Sunshine Associates, LLC

Ron Sunshine

“My [agency ID] number when I joined was MO01 for the first agency in the state of Missouri, right when you guys started Nationwide Interchange Service,” said Ron, who eventually left the Network but rejoined after a 10-year hiatus. “The reason I joined in the first place was that I’m not technically oriented. I thought an engineer drove a train, so I thought that associating myself with experts in the field would help me without having to hire somebody and then develop them.”

Ron has been a remarkably consistent producer in the Network. He’s made a total of 67 split placements in Top Echelon, which have generated $670K cash-in. (Some quick math tells you that Ron’s portion of each split placement he makes in TE is $10K.)

According to Ron, below are four takeaways that have been instrumental to his success as a member of the Network:

#1—Nothing beats picking up the telephone.

Ron, a veteran of the recruiting profession, acknowledges that he has to “stay on his toes” to keep up with the latest technology and jargon. He engages in continuous training and education to that end. However, sometimes the simplest approach to success in recruiting is still the best approach.

“Even with all of the new stuff, nothing beats picking up the telephone and talking with folks,” he said. “I’ve developed some really good relationships with other recruiters in the Network, and I trust them. In my second stint in the Network, during this past 12 or 13 years, I haven’t had problems with anybody. I’ve had a lot of success.”

#2—In TE, you can do things you normally can’t do.

The biggest split placement fee of which Ron has been a part in Top Echelon Network was $95K for a Vice President of Sales & Marketing in 2016. Ron typically recruits in Manufacturing and sometimes in Engineering, but never in Sales & Marketing. However, not only did he make a placement within that industry, but he also split $95K for making that placement.

“I never would have made that $95,000 placement,” said Ron. “That never would have happened without the Network. I had never done anything in Sales & Marketing before, and my agency is not a retainer agency. But my networking partner gave me the insight and the help I needed. The Network was 100% responsible for that placement.”

We must point out that Ron’s $95K fee remains the largest placement fee that two members have ever split in the history of Top Echelon Network.

#3—He made placements he never would have made.

That $95K split was one of many placements that Ron believes he never would have made without Top Echelon.

“I’ve made almost 70 placements in the Network, and the vast majority of them I never would have made if not the Network,” he said. “There is no doubt in my mind about that. I now tell my clients that if they have a Sales job or an IT job, I have associates that can help with filling it.

“I also tell all of my candidates that I have a network and don’t be surprised if they receive a call from somebody they’ve never heard of. And my trading partners always identify themselves as an associate of mine when they call.”

#4—The Network won’t help you if you don’t USE it.

“You have to work the Network” said Ron. “It’s a tool that has to be used. A hammer is no good if it just sits in the toolbox. Not only that, but you also have to trust your Network partners. Less than 1% of the recruiters in the Network would do anything to hurt anybody.

“We’re all in the same boat here, so develop relationships, trust the Network, and work it. I consider myself a lifer in the Network. It’s definitely worked for me. It’s been the most profitable ROI I’ve ever had.”

Ron Sunshine is not only a “Network lifer,” but he’s also a model Top Echelon Network member. His longevity and success is proof that the Top Echelon model of helping recruiters is as valuable now as it was when the Network was founded as Nationwide Interchange Service more than 30 years ago.

We at Top Echelon want to thank Ron for his loyalty and dedication down through the years, as well as the tremendous success that he has enjoyed inside the Network (including that $95K split)!

While there have been thousands of recruiters who have been successful in Top Echelon Network—and have made the Network a success as a result—few have helped to imbue it with as much personality as Bob Gabor.

Bob, who spent two stints in Top Echelon as a member, recently retired from the Network and from the profession overall for good. His tenures in both included many of the same things—tantalizing highs, occasional lows, unexpected friendships, and long-lasting relationships. In short, they were anything but boring and nearly always interesting.

Bob Gabor of The Gabor Group

Bob Gabor

Bob’s production in Top Echelon’s split recruiting network was impressive. In his 19 years as a member, he made 59 Network placements totaling nearly $500K cash-in. Not only that, but he also found ways to leverage the full resources of the Network to refine and hone his recruiting desk and enhance his agency’s overall effectiveness.

Bob started in the recruiting profession by accident in 1989. He had recently left a job in the dry cleaning business, namely because he had just got divorced and his ex-father in-law owned the business.

However, his next job, one selling boats, did not offer much in the way of long-term security. For one thing, by Bob’s own admission, he was not very good at it. And then something else happened that would change the course of his life.

“One of my kids came to me and said, ‘Hey, Dad. We want to live with you,’” said Bob. “Well, if two teenagers were going to live with me, I couldn’t work nights or weekends. I just happened to see an ad in the newspaper for a recruiter, so I answered it and went in for the interview. They offered me the position, so I quit the boat job before they could fire me.”

One of the ways that Bob leveraged the full resources of the Network was by building relationships with other like-minded recruiters in Top Echelon. In fact, he was one of the founding members of what was called the “Core-upt Group.”

The recruiters in this group took the traditional phrase “Core Group” and added their own unique twist. The name was rooted in the members’ often rebellious nature and their tendency to discuss topics that fell completely outside the realm of the recruiting profession.

“It was kind of like the office water cooler,” said Bob. “Our motto was ‘We’re equal opportunity annoyers.'”

From the “Core-upt Group” sprang the origins of the “Friday Funnies” in the Top Echelon Network Discussion Forum. According to Gabor, it was former Network member Chris Albrecht who sowed the seeds of the “Friday Funnies.”

“On Fridays, Albrecht started asking questions in the Forum like, ‘What’s your favorite movie?’ and ‘Where do you like to travel?’” said Bob, “among other questions of a more personal nature.”

John Zurek of Zurek Professional Resources, LLC

John Zurek

When Albrecht left the Network, Bob took over, and not being quite as creative as Albrecht, he started the “Friday Funnies” in the Discussion Forum. Now that Bob has retired, that responsibility falls to original “Core -upt Group” member John Zurek of Zurek Professional Resources . . . if he chooses to accept the assignment, that is.

“During my last week in the Network, I posted a whole week of some of my favorite jokes from ‘Friday Funnies’ down through the years,” said Bob. “That’s just one of many things that I’ll miss about the Network.”

Something else that he’ll miss is attending the recruiter networking events that Top Echelon held twice per year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attending those events helped him to build the relationships that were vital to his success in the Network.

“I always went to Chicago for the Fall Conference,” said Bob. “It was nice to put faces to the voices you’ve been talking to. I made friends with a lot of people, and I trusted all of them with all of the information they needed to help me on my assignments. We made a lot of placements together.”

According to Bob, relationships hold the key to maximizing the value that Top Echelon Network offers to agency recruiters and executive search consultants.

“Getting to know people and building relationships is key,” he said. “The personal touch is the biggest thing. You have to talk with your trading partners. Pick up the phone and call. Recruiting is an up and down business, and [the Network] members were a good tool to have.”

Not only is recruiting and up and down profession, but those highs and lows can happen quickly and often unexpectedly.

“There is no business where you can get healthy as quickly as you can with recruiting,” said Bob. “You could be down in the dumps, but with the level of our fees, if you make a couple of placements, you’re sitting pretty again. After 30 years in the business, there isn’t much that I haven’t seen—the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

We at Top Echelon are glad that a lot of the good that Bob saw during his recruiting career was a direct result of his Network membership. And we congratulate him on a long and successful career and we wish him well in the future! Thank you, Bob!

(Editor’s note: Anybody who would like to reach out to Bob to wish him a fond farewell can do so by sending an email to

First of all, I’d like to congratulate Top Echelon Network member Bill Kubena of Kubena & Associates for making his 50th placement in our recruiting network!

Not only that, but Bill has also been a recruiter and executive search consultant for more than 25 years. These two milestones alone are worthy of mention.

Bill Kubena of Kubena & Associates

Bill Kubena

However, ever since Bill became a Network member, he has also “set the bar” in terms of showing appreciation for his split recruiting partners. This is evident by the comments that he submits with his Top Echelon Completed Placement forms.

Bill consistently praises his trading partners for their help in making split placements. He doesn’t do it every once in a while or sometimes. He does it all the time.

It’s evident that Bill Kubena fully appreciates his trading partners in Top Echelon Network. And we appreciate him and everybody else who believes in the spirit of networking and the value that they receive by being a member of the Network.

Congratulations, Bill! Here’s to 50 more placements!

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Marcus Strother of Bridgeway Commerce Group, LLC

Marcus Strother

“Thanks, Marcus . . . great to finally get one on the board with you! Let’s stay in touch and see if we can get another knocked out. Stay safe!”

Submitted by Bill Kubena of Kubena & Associates regarding his Network split placement with Marcus Strother of Bridgeway Commerce Group, LLC


Fee Percentage—20%

(Editor’s note: This is the first Network split placement that Bill and Marcus have made together in Top Echelon.)

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Jim Strickland of BioSource International

Jim Strickland

“Thanks, Jim! Nice to put one on the board in these times! Appreciate all of your help!”

Submitted by Bill Kubena of Kubena & Associates regarding his Network split placement with Jim Strickland of BioSource International


Fee Percentage—20%

(Editor’s note: This is the third Network split placement that Bill and Jim have made together in Top Echelon.)

— — —

Larry Gallin of Gallin Associates

Larry Gallin

“Thanks, Larry, for sending me [the candidate]. He was a pleasure to work with and my client could not be more excited! Let’s see if we can get another one on the board. Thanks again!”

Submitted by Bill Kubena of Kubena & Associates regarding his Network split placement with Larry Gallin of Gallin Associates


Fee Percentage—20%

(Editor’s note: This is the first Network split placement that Bill and Larry have made together in Top Echelon.)